William Johnson McDonald, a banker from Paris, Texas, left most of his fortune to the University of Texas at Austin. His dream was that it be used to build a world-class observatory, and that’s just what happened. Dedicated on May 5, 1939, the observatory turns 75 years old this year. It is an amazing place, located in the Davis Mountains in West Texas, one of the darkest places in the U.S.
We were honored to be called upon to produce a new over McDonald Observatory video overview, coinciding with the big anniversary. We had produced earlier overview videos that played in the Visitor’s Center and Hobby Ebberly telescope. Now it was time to tell a new story about the “brain motor” that is the McDonald Observatory. We spent several days gathering footage at the Observatory, getting to go “behind the scenes” at the three big telescopes on the mountains with our executive producer, Damond Benningfield. Incorporating new interviews with astronomers and professors, plus wonderful animations and illustrations from NASA and other sources, the new video 21st Century ‘Brain Motor’ will play in the Visitor’s Center and educate visitors to the Observatory about the history and mission of the facility for years to come.
If you have a chance to get to the Observatory and attend a lecture or star party, you won’t be disappointed. Nothing quite prepares you for how dark the sky is and how bright the stars are. The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin is also featuring an exhibit from May 1-June 29. A model of the Otto Struve telescope will be on display. Other events to celebrate the anniversary are planned throughout the state. Check the McDonald Observatory website to find out more. http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/
Happy Birthday McDonald Observatory!
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