With wildfires bearing down on the McDonald Observatory, the Texas Forest Service undertook controlled burns on April 17 to get rid of fuel on the mountains in West Texas. This would starve the Rock House wildfire of fuel should it double back toward the observatory.
In the above image, Black Mountain is burning. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome is at right. Above it, the bright line on the right is the wildfire which broke through a burn-out line on Sunday afternoon. The bright line on the left is the front of a back-fire set to stop that portion of the wildfire. Silhouetted by the back-fires on Black and Spring (to the left) Mountains is Guide Peak now with only small pockets of active fires.
This view of the Rock House wildfire was shot on the night of April 9 from the catwalk of the 6.9-foot (2.1-meter) Otto Struve Telescope dome looking east. The 8.9-foot (2.7-m) Harlan J. Smith Telescope is at left.
This view of the Rock House wildfire was shot on the night of April 9 overlooking the dome of the 3-foot (0.9-m) telescope.
The controlled burn of April 17 as seen from the visitors center's public telescope park at the McDonald Observatory, where public star parties are held three times each week.
The Texas Forest Service undertook the controlled burn to starve the Rock House wildfire of fuel, should it turn back toward the observatory.
Guide Peak is in flames from the controlled burn on April 17. The two peaks of McDonald Observatory, Mount Fowlkes and Mount Locke, are to the right and far right, respectively. The domes of the 30-foot (9.1-m) Hobby-Eberly, Harlan J. Smith and Otto Struve telescopes are visible.
To the north of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, Guide Peak is on fire and almost completely burned on April 17.
The Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome watches as wildfires and controlled burns compete for fuel in the West Texas mountains.