McDonald Observatory is 450 miles (725 km) west of Austin, Texas, and 185 miles (300 km) east of El Paso. The nearest town is Ft. Davis, Texas, about 18 miles (30 km) away. McDonald Observatory Star Parties and Twilight Programs are famous thrice-weekly events under some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States, held in conjunction with frequent Special Viewing Nights on some of the largest telescopes in the world. The twilight programs on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights and the star parties are subject to capacity limits. These events typically sell out days or even weeks ahead of time, and reservations are required. An EarthSky community member says, “Skies are dark. There are guided constellation tours and telescopes set up for viewing. If it’s a clear night, it’s an awesome and memorable night-sky experience for families and beginners.”
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.