Seeing Stars at McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of Texas

Caribbean cruise and RWA conference 763

Caribbean cruise and RWA conference 760My husband and I drove to the Davis Mountains, the highest elevation in Texas to visit the observatory and see stars. 

We stayed at the Astronomer’s Lodge and enjoyed a dinner and a talk about stars before traveling to the 107 inch telescope to learn more and look through the telescope. I climbed seventy stairs (stopped twice to catch my breath) to the equivalent of five stories, but it was worth it to hear Dr. Michael Endl talk about his research of 160,000 stars over five years to find a star system with a planet like earth. He’s found four earth-size planets and 312 larger ones.

Then they opened a wide strip of the dome and rotated the dome to position the huge telescope. I will post pictures as soon as I can download them from my camera.

I looked through the eyepiece at the fourth mirror (that’s how it needs to be set up even though some of the light is lost when moving to each mirror). I viewed a dying star with its ring of nuclear particles that looked like a donut. I also saw a binary star 430  light years away. At first it was believed to be one star, but actually proved to be two stars revolving around each other at a distance of several light years apart. I could see both twinkling, one above the other.

My next view was of a globular cluster of a hundred or more stars. There were too many to count.

I asked about a larger observatory dome and learned it was only used by researchers using spectography to study the light rays received from different stars and planets.  An astronomer estimated the number of observatory domes nearby was twenty-five as other groups are doing research or providing observatories for students to observe.



About carolynrae1

Carolyn Rae (a/k/a Carolyn Rae Williamson) - Her passion is writing romantic suspense and delving into the minds of stalkers, bombers and terrorists that threaten the course of true love. She has several books published. Her latest is Just the Two of Us in the Barefoot Bay Kindle World. She has also written a Witness Protection Series, which includes Hiding from Love, Protected by Love, and Tempted by Love. She wrote the text of There IS Life After Lettuce (Eakin Press), a cookbook for heart patients and diabetics and has a master's degree in home economics. Whenever she tastes a delicious high calorie dish, she goes home to make a more healthy, but still tasty version. Her profile, travel, and cooking articles have appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Dallas Morning News, Positive Parenting, AAA World, Hawaii and Alaska, and Romance Writer's Report.
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