What It’s Like to Intern at the McDonald Observatory

William F. Strong


If you’ve ever travelled westward in Texas you’ve probably heard of the McDonald Observatory. The University of Texas at Austin research facility aims “to inform, educate, and inspire through (their) public programs, and support the teaching of the science and hobby of astronomy.” With tours, Sky Parties, and special viewing nights, there’s something for everyone. Jessica Wigley, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, is the summer intern at the observatory, where she helps with many of those outreach programs. “The solar viewings, the guided tours – everything that’s going to bring astronomy closer to the public and make it more accessible to them,” she says. Wigley says that while visiting the observatory means you’ll be in the middle of nowhere, it’s worth the trip. “The nearest Walmart is actually 100 miles away,” she says. “It’s kind of nice to get away from the city and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature from time to time.” So what can you expect after your first visit? A little more perspective. “You definitely walk away with a sense that you are somewhat small,” she says. “It humbles you.”