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UT observatory dedicated in Davis Mountains

May
05
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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