Texas’ connection to one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.

Texas’ Two-Step to the Moon and Beyond


Sunday, August 25 | 4:00 – 6:00 PM | $20
Saint Arnold Beer Hall

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This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing. One month after Neil Armstrong took the first “small step” on the Moon, The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory bounced a laser beam off a reflector left on the Moon by Apollo 11. The experiment measured the Earth-Moon distance with an accuracy of a few inches.

Please join us as we celebrate the history of this momentous occasion, and learn more about how the University of Texas at Austin’s Astronomy Department and McDonald Observatory have played a major role in the advancement of our knowledge of the Moon and the universe that surrounds us.

The ticket price of this event also includes your first pour. Proceeds for this event will benefit the McDonald Observatory at The University of Texas at Austin.


Featured Speakers

Dr. Taft Armandroff, McDonald Observatory Director
Taft Armandroff serves as Director of The University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s McDonald Observatory and Professor in the Department of Astronomy. McDonald Observatory is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research and public outreach. The Observatory operates multiple research telescopes, the largest of which is the Hobby-Eberly Telescope with its 10-meter mirror. McDonald Observatory spearheads UT’s partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope that is being developed in Chile, which will be the world’s largest optical telescope when it begins scientific observations in 2023.

Dr. Karl Gebhardt, UT Austin Astrophysics Professor
Karl Gebhardt is one of the world’s top experts when it comes to black holes. In his career, he’s helped find half of the 80 known black holes in the universe. One of them was the biggest black hole known in the universe – 17 billion times heavier than the sun!

Dr. Gebhardt is now working on an experiment called HETDEX, or the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment at the McDonald Observatory. He’s looking for another dark, hard to see and understand mystery in space, dark energy. Dr. Gebhardt hopes that HETDEX will help explain what makes up almost three-quarters of all the matter and energy in the universe.

Dr. William Cochran, UT Austin Astronomy Research Professor
William Cochran holds a B.S. in physics from Duke University and a PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University. As he was finishing his PhD work, he was recruited by Harlan Smith to join the McDonald Observatory planetary science group, where he spent many years studying the atmospheres of the planets in our solar system. He then became interested in searching for planets orbiting other stars, and started one of the first programs of high precision stellar radial velocity measurement. The McDonald Observatory exoplanet research group has discovered dozens of planets using the McDonald Observatory 2.7m Harlan J. Smith Telescope and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. Cochran was a Co-Investigator on the NASA Kepler space mission, and is very active in the follow-on K2 mission.

About McDonald Observatory:
This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the McDonald Observatory, which was founded in 1939. McDonald Observatory, a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education and outreach. Observatory facilities are located atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which offer some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. Additionally, the observatory is a partner in the forthcoming Giant Magellan Telescope, under construction in Chile. McDonald Observatory’s administrative offices are on the UT Austin campus. The Observatory works with the University’s Department of Astronomy on both research and teaching.