Organized in 1969, a month after the first manned lunar landing of Apollo 11, the Austin Astronomical Society (AAS) is a club for people who are interested in any aspect of astronomy or the space sciences. The Austin Astronomical Society's monthly club meetings are free and open to the public and feature speakers on a variety of astronomy related topics. Monthly meetings are held on the second Friday of each month at 7:30 PM in the Robert Lee Moore Building on the University of Texas campus at the southeast corner of the intersection of Dean Keeton and Speedway. The Austin Astronomical Society also holds regularly scheduled observing sessions or star parties at the Society's Eagle Eye Observatory located on the upper branch of Lake Buchanan northwest of Burnet, Texas as well as many more astronomy related activities including astronomy tours at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. The Eagle Eye Observatory houses three telescopes and the area around the observatory building is a large observing field with 30 powered tables for AAS members to set up their observing equipment. Some of these star parties are open to the general public and others are only for members of the Austin Astronomical Society. Annual membership dues are $25 a year with discounts for students, seniors and families.
Thursdays from 10 AM to 5 PM is FREE DAY at the Blanton Museum of Art. The Blanton Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Austin and features a substantial permanent collection of important works of art as well as traveling collections from around the world. Some of the free things to do at the Blanton on Thursdays include over 30,000 square feet of permanent and traveling collections and exhibits. The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the foremost university art museums in the country, and has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. The Blanton features modern and contemporary art from both the United States and Latin American including the Mari and James A. Michener Collection of 20th-Century American Art Modern and the Barbara Duncan Collection of Latin American Art. There is also a notable collection of paintings of the American West.
Deep under the heart of the University of Texas is the Texas Union Underground, a recreational facility open to the general public featuring bowling at the Texas Union Underground. The bowling alley at The Underground has 12 bowling lanes and shoe rental is available. A special feature of bowling at the Texas Union is "Glow Bowl" nights, bowling with black florescent lights, lasers and music. Reservations are accepted and league bowling is available. The Texas Union Informal Classes also offer five-week bowling lessons to learn etiquette, proper equipment and the fundamentals of the game including ten free practice games.
Admission to the Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin is free and open to the public. The major focus of the Ransom Center is the study of the literature and culture of the United States, Great Britain, and France. Free things to do in Austin at the Harry Ransom Center include include the exhibits at the center displaying manuscripts, rare books, photographs, works of art and major collections in theater and movie memorabilia including the David O. Selznick and Gloria Swanson archives. The Harry Ransom Center also offers a number of free special events including poetry readings, lectures and movies.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded by Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969 during the presidency of her husband Lyndon B. Johnson, and the actress Helen Hayes in 1982 as the National Wildflower Research Center with the goal of protecting and preserving North America's native plants and natural landscapes. Since it's founding, the Center in southwest Austin has become one of the country’s most credible research institutions and effective advocates for native plants became a University of Texas Organized Research Unit in 2006. The public gardens, woodlands and meadows display native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South and West Texas, while the conservation program protects rare and endangered flora. The Wildflower Center hosts frequent events to help educate and entertain the public including book signings, art shows, photo exhibits, plant sales, gardening festivals, kid's events and annual parties and galas. The Wildflower Center also presents an informal education program called Go Native U with classes on sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, native plant gardening, the benefits of native plants and other topics related to sustainable landscape design. Some of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center informal classes are available as online webinars.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Library houses forty-five million pages of historical documents which include the papers from the entire public career of Lyndon Baines Johnson and also from those of close associates. The museum provides year-round public viewing of its permanent historical and cultural exhibits. Special activities and exhibits are sponsored privately by the Friends of the LBJ Library and its parent organization, the LBJ Foundation. Beginning in December 2011, the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, will be undergoing a major redesign with a grand opening scheduled for December 2012, in celebration of what would have been Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday. The LBJ Library will remain open throughout the construction, but parts of the Library will be closed at times. Updates on construction and exhibit closures will be available on the Library website.
For many years, Mary Doerr has been painting watercolors of Austin and the Southwest. Her gallery on Burnet features some of the many watercolors she has rendered of Austin's best-loved places both past and present including Barton Springs, downtown Austin and the University of Texas. Prints, posters, note cards, calendars and originals are available as well as the work of other artists including prints, photography, metal art, handcrafted jewelry and pottery, Treaty Oak memorabilia, Texas Limestone gifts and glass. Custom framing services are also available including a 15 percent discount to University of Texas graduates framing diplomas.
The Moonlight Prowl is a tour of the University of Texas campus at night complete with anecdotes of student life, history and University of Texas legend. This fun thing to do in Austin is free. Reservations must be made online and confirmed by email. There are several versions of the Moonlight Prowl and the email confirmation includes the place to meet. Moonlight Prowls are held several times a month from March to early November. This activity is probably not suitable for young children. The Prowl is a mostly outdoors walking tour of the 40 acres as the University of Texas campus is sometimes called. All Prowls start at 8 PM and last 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
A long time University of Texas area favorite since 1988, Ruby's BBQ has pit smoked BBQ from natural all beef brisket. The pits at Ruby's BBQ in Austin TX are the only brick pits in Austin Texas still used to smoke BBQ. Ruby's BBQ also has vegetarian items and other non-traditional side dishes for BBQ.
The Astronomy Department at the University of Texas sponsors free public star parties on the top roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway every Wednesday night while UT is in session. Take the elevators at Robert Lee Moore Hall to the 17th floor and then follow the signs to the stairs up to 16 inch telescope used for teaching undergraduate astronomy majors and for graduate student projects. Parking is available at nearby UT parking garages for $3 after 6 PM. Viewing times change throughout the year so check the website first or call (512) 471-5007 for current times. If the weather seems questionable call (512) 232-4265 approximately thirty to fortyfive minutes before the scheduled start time to find out if the viewing is cancelled. A typical night will include a planet or two, binary stars, star clusters and some of the brighter nebulae.
The Astronomy Department at the University of Texas hosts free viewing on the Painter Hall Telescope every Friday and Saturday night while UT is in session. Painter Hall is located at the corner of 24th street and Inner Campus Drive just to the north of the UT Tower. At Painter Hall take the elevator to the 5th floor and exit to the left. Follow the 5th floor hallway to the end and take the staircase through the double doors on the left. At the sixth floor go to the right and follow the signs up to the telescope. Parking is available at nearby UT parking garages for $3 after 6 PM. Viewing times change throughout the year so check the website first or call (512) 471-5007 for current times. If the weather seems questionable for this fun free thing to do, call (512) 232-4265 approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time to find out if the viewing is cancelled. The Painter Hall telescope has been in place at Painter Hall since the 1930's and the lens in the telescope was ground at the turn of the century.
Texas Memorial Museum is part of the Texas Natural Science Center at the University of Texas and admission is always free. Texas Memorial Museum has exhibits featuring dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife and gems and minerals. Texas Memorial Museum also has a working Paleontology Lab where visitors can observe and ask questions as scientists work with real fossils. Exhibits of dinosaur fossils found in Texas include the largest flying creature ever found, the Texas Pterosaur, with a wingspan of nearly 40 feet, and the 30-foot Mosasaur that swam the shallow sea that once covered most of the state. The Texas Memorial Museum also has a gift shop with lots of fun and interesting gifts for kids.
Trudy's Texas Star serves a full menu late night until 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Trudy's Texas Star is the original of the now three Trudy's locations in Austin (the other two are one in far South Austin and the other in far North Austin)and opened in the University of Texas campus area in 1977.
The Longhorn Network television station, a joint venture of ESPN and the University of Texas, is a cable channel devoted to round-the-clock coverage of University of Texas Longhorn sports that made its debut on Friday, August 26, 2011. The University of Texas Longhorn Network will cover all sports at UT and will broadcast over 200 live events every year. The Longhorn Network is not currently part of the Time Warner cable service in the Austin area. The Longhorn Network is now carried on AT&T U-verse on Channel 609 and 1609 HD, Grande Communications, Verizon FiOS and a few other small cable carriers.
Closed for almost 25 years, the University of Texas currently offers tours of UT's landmark Tower atop the old Main Building on the UT campus. Accompanied by a UT student guide, tours are self-guided with approximately 45 minutes to view Austin from the observation deck. The schedule varies depending on the time of year, but generally tours take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Advance reservation of tickets is strongly recommended. Reservations can be made by phoning 475-6633 or in person at The Texas Union building on campus at 2247 Guadalupe Street. Tickets are $6.00 per person and tours are frequently booked a week or more in advance. Unclaimed tickets are sold to a waiting list 10 minutes before each tour time. You may sign up on this list on a walk-up basis at the Texas Union Information Center starting one hour before a scheduled tour. Bags and purses are not allowed on the tour, but lockers are available to rent for $1.