UT observatory dedicated in Davis Mountains

May 5th, 1939

On this day in 1939, the telescope of the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory was dedicated. The observatory, located on Mount Locke near Fort Davis, owes its foundation to the unexpected legacy of William Johnson McDonald, bachelor banker of Paris, Texas, who died in 1926 and left the university $850,000 for the establishment of an astronomical observatory. The university, having no astronomy faculty, signed a thirty-year collaborative agreement with the University of Chicago in 1932, whereby Texas financed the telescope and Chicago provided the astronomers. World War II severely restricted astronomical research in many parts of the world, but McDonald gained the services of several refugee European astronomers. At the end of the war McDonald astronomers received many awards from American and European astronomical societies. Construction of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope on Mount Fowlkes, adjacent to Mount Locke, began in 1994, and it became operational in 1999.

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UT observatory dedicated in Davis Mountains

May 5th, 1939

On this day in 1939, the telescope of the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory was dedicated. The observatory, located on Mount Locke near Fort Davis, owes its foundation to the unexpected legacy of William Johnson McDonald, bachelor banker of Paris, Texas, who died in 1926 and left the university $850,000 for the establishment of an astronomical observatory. The university, having no astronomy faculty, signed a thirty-year collaborative agreement with the University of Chicago in 1932, whereby Texas financed the telescope and Chicago provided the astronomers. World War II severely restricted astronomical research in many parts of the world, but McDonald gained the services of several refugee European astronomers. At the end of the war McDonald astronomers received many awards from American and European astronomical societies. Construction of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope on Mount Fowlkes, adjacent to Mount Locke, began in 1994, and it became operational in 1999.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

Share this article

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
Get your Texas Day by Day delivered straight to your inbox: