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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Fort Davis in Jeff Davis County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas

 
 
McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, December 22, 2009
1. McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas Marker
Inscription. Original unit in complex forming one of the great observatory centers of the world. Built in the 1930s under terms of legacy from William Johnson McDonald (1844-1926), a Paris (Texas) banker interested in the stars. A well-educated man, McDonald lived frugally. As a hobby, he read science books and viewed planets through a small telescope. His will granted to the University of Texas $800,000: "to build an observatory and promote the study of astronomy." This site was selected because of its high ratio of clear nights, its 6,800-foot altitude, and its quite low latitude that permits observation of southern skies. The observatory was operated for its first 25 years mainly by astronomers from the University of Chicago, more recently primarily from the University of Texas. Until 1948, its 82-inch telescope was second largest in the world. Its fine work and site have resulted in the addition of other telescopes including a 107-inch instrument sponsored jointly by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Texas. Discoveries made here have included interstellar polarization and the satellites of several planets.
 
Erected 1968 by State Historical Survey Committee. (Marker Number 10480.)
 
Location.
Panorama Mt. Locke image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney
2. Panorama Mt. Locke
30° 40.275′ N, 104° 1.416′ W. Marker is near Fort Davis, Texas, in Jeff Davis County. Marker is on State Highway 78. Touch for map. From Fort Davis, take SH 118 W approx. 11.5 miles to the top of Mt. Locke, McDonald Observatory. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Davis TX 79734, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Trueheart House (approx. 9.2 miles away); The First Fort Davis (approx. 9.3 miles away); Fort Davis (approx. 9.4 miles away); San Antonio-El Paso Road (approx. 9.5 miles away); First Baptist Church of Fort Davis (approx. 9.5 miles away); Jeff Davis County Courthouse (approx. 9.5 miles away); T/SGT. Manuel S. Gonzales (approx. 9.6 miles away); Old Fort Davis CSA (approx. 9.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Davis.
 
Also see . . .  University of Texas, McDonald Observatory website. (Submitted on January 15, 2010, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.)
 
Categories. Notable BuildingsNotable PlacesScience & Medicine
 
Highest Point on Texas Highways image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, December 22, 2009
3. Highest Point on Texas Highways
Sign reads: Summit of Mount Locke, Highest Point on Texas Highways, This Elevation 6791, Elev. Valley Below 5280, TXDOT (Texas Department of Tranportation)
Harlan J. Smith plaque image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, December 22, 2009
4. Harlan J. Smith plaque
Plaque is inside the Harlan J. Smith telescope dome. The photographer -- Richard Denney -- is proud to note he took undergraduate astronomy from Dr. Smith in the 70s.
Harlan J. Smith telescope image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, December 22, 2009
5. Harlan J. Smith telescope
Lunar Laser Ranging image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, December 22, 2009
6. Lunar Laser Ranging
This plaque inside the Harlan J. Smith telescope dome describes experiments carried out with this telescope in bouncing laser beams off reflectors placed on the moon by Apollo 11.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 12, 2010, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. This page has been viewed 886 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 15, 2010, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A photo of the marker and the surrounding area in context. • Can you help?
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