McDonald Observatory
I've had the honor of using the McDonald telescopes, both as an observer and a programmer since 1974. During the 70s, I wrote the software and did much of the observing for the lunar occultation experiment. This science was done on the 30 inch telescope. I also did high speed photometry on the 36 inch telescope, ultraviolet spectroscopy using the 107 inch telescope and a couple of observing runs on the 82 inch telescope measuring radial velocities. Recently, I did the supernova search using the 30 inch and measured cepheid radial velocities using the 82 inch.
The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald uses the largest mirror in the world, 11 by 10 meters, comprised of 91 individual 1 meter mirrors. Each of the individual mirrors is positioned by computer, bringing all 91 images to focus on the same point.
The 82 inch telescope (2.1 meter), dedicated in 1939.
The 107 inch telescope (2.7 meter), dedicated in 1969.
The 30 inch telescope (.76 meter), completed in 1972.
Tom (me) observing in the 30 inch control room. In the 70s and 80s, there was no control room attached to the 30 inch; we froze to death on the exposed dome floor on winter nights. Now, we observe in comfort.
The 82 inch catwalk is a great place to watch the sunset
The 107 inch begins it's work on a clear night. That's Venus above the dome.
One of my favorite pictures; sometimes I get lucky! That's me silhouetted against our galaxy, the Milky Way, setting in the west. You can easily pick out the "teapot" of Sagittarius; that's M7 just to the left of my neck. You may need to adjust your monitor settings or darken your room to see it best.
A new day dawns at McDonald. After a spectacular night, the glow of dawn revealed clouds and fog filling the valley below us.
About 80 miles south of McDonald is the ghost town of Shafter. The small mining town was wiped off the face of the earth by the flu epidemic of 1918. Walking through the ruins is a sobering reminder of what the next flu pandemic could do.