University of Texas Observatory
March 24 - May 6
8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Every Friday and Saturday while UT is in session the Department of Astronomy hosts free viewing on the Painter Hall Telescope. Both Friday and Saturday nights are open to the general public. Painter Hall is located at the corner of 24th street and Inner Campus Drive, just to the north of the UT Tower. (Garage rate information is available here.)
To get to the telescope, take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the stair case through the double doors on the left. Once you reach the 6th floor, go to your right and follow the signs up to the telescope.
All ages are welcome, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times. Viewing times change throughout the year, so please check this page before planning your visit. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information. This line is updated approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time. (If you get an old message from an earlier date, that means the line has not been updated for the current date yet.)
Public viewing nights occur throughout the year while the unversity is in session. Typically spring semester viewing runs from late January to early May, summer sessions viewing runs from early-to-mid June to mid-August, and fall semster viewing runs from early September to early December.
History of the 9-inch telescope
The 9-inch telescope has a long history with the University. The lens in the telescope is actually older than the tube, mount and dome and was ground a little before the turn of the 20th century by the John A. Brashear company - one of the finest lens makers of the time. The tube and mount were made by the Warner and Swasey Company of Cleveland and was placed in Painter Hall when the building was constructed in the early 1930s. The dome appears green from the outside because of its high copper content, which oxidizes to a patina similar to the color seen on the Statue of Liberty. The inside has been painted but in areas where the paint has chipped, the brilliant original copper can be glimpsed. Unlike most modern telescopes, no electricity is required to operate the clock drive on the telescope. Instead, the drive is wound up to raise a weight which will drop throughout the evening and turn the drive gears.