Engage with Science

Our campus and community offer many opportunities for the public to engage with science, from visiting us on site to participating in citizen science projects.

Photo of star party at the McDonald Observatory. Visitors stargazing near a large telescope at night.

Star Parties at UT Austin


The Astronomy Department hosts public viewings on the UT Austin telescopes multiple nights per week when UT is in session. Check the website for current schedule and locations for public viewings.

A sculpture of a sabertooth cat is outside of a museum building on the UT Austin campus

Texas Science and Natural History Museum

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Previously Texas Memorial Museum, this historic site offers new exhibits, outstanding fossil samples and a wide range of science-related offerings.

Photo of a crushed granite pathway winding through a wooded area in the Lady Bird Johson Wildflower Center's arboretum. The sun, just near the horizon, gleams through the native trees and native grasses.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


The official Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas is a part of the College of Natural Sciences, dedicated to beautiful, resilient and wildlife-friendly native plants. Enjoy programming, stroll the gardens and learn at the center, located in southwest Austin.

Photo of two children engaging with a digital interactive display at the Patton Center.

Patton Center for Marine Science Education


The center, based in Port Aransas at our Marine Science Institute, features eight large aquaria and engaging interactive displays. Visitors of all ages have opportunities to learn about the local marine life on the Texas Coast and the research that is conducted at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) and its Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. While you’re at the UTMSI campus, you may also be able to take a tour of its Amost Rescue Keep and tour the outdoor Wetlands Education Center.

Time-lapse photo of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in West Texas with star trails in the sky.

McDonald Observatory


McDonald Observatory operates a multi-faceted international public outreach program. The on-site Frank N. Bash Visitors Center provides daytime activities, night-time star parties and public tours. McDonald also produces the StarDate radio program, StarDate magazine, the StarDate Online website, and special programs for teachers and school children.

Photo of vistors at Brackridge Field Laboratory peering into a microscope.

Science Under the Stars

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This free, monthly public outreach lecture series was founded and organized by graduate students in the Department of Integrative Biology and graduate program in ecology, evolution and behavior at UT Austin. Members of the public are welcome virtually and in person.

Collage with images of sea turtles, atmospheric data, a 3-D rendering of a brain, a snake and an atom

Texas Science Festival

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This virtual spring festival provides opportunities to interact with scientists, engage in science lessons and take dives into exciting areas of research, with events often held in person in Austin, Fort Davis and Port Aransas, Texas, as well as virtually for attendees anywhere to enjoy.

A photo of the displays at the Bay Education Center. Light projections on a sphere create the illusion of a floating earth with scientific data overlays.

Bay Education Center


Another visitor center overseen by UTMSI and its Mission-Aransas Reserve, the Bay Education Center is located in nearby Rockport. It offers visitors of all ages the chance to interact with exhibits featuring lessons and insights about the different habitats found in Texas estuaries, marshes, oyster reefs, seagrass and riparian habitats.

A simulation of the cosmic web of dark matter. An abstract, fibrous fusion of pink and purple lines with yellow highlights.

Dark Energy Explorers

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The Hobby-Eberly Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) needs your help as a citizen scientist on its quest to identify millions of galaxies that are 9 billion to 11 billion light-years away. You can help with the largest map of the universe ever made and our astronomers’ efforts to understand dark energy.

Photo of MSI research staff member holding pre-production plastic pellets found on the shore in Texas.

Nurdle Patrol

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A citizen science project led by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas, Nurdle Patrol members track small plastic pellets that can be harmful to some animals. Help the Nurdle Patrol collect information on when and where nurdles are present.