Marc Wetzel found his passion and love of astronomy during one summer at McDonald Observatory and never looked back.
Marc has been so inspired by finding his own passion in life that his message to everyone, included in the talks he gives to K-12 graders, is to "find your passion and don't worry about money. Making a living will come naturally with your passion."
At age 10, Marc says he first "became interested in nature." He says he always sought a connection between nature and himself, but it wasn't until high school that he got interested in astronomy and became an amateur astronomer.
Marc is from Arlington, Texas and began a physics degree at The University of Texas at Arlington in 1988. "I applied for a summer job at McDonald Observatory. I didn't think I would get in because it was for astronomy majors at The University of Texas at Austin." As if fate stepped in, Marc was accepted. He started working in the Visitors Center in the summer of 1989. "It's been a long summer; I'm still here," he says.
He decided to stay at the observatory instead of continuing his degree in Arlington. Shortly after, he joined the public programs team. While working at McDonald, he changed his major to communications and received his degree at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. In 2001, when the observatory's new Frank N. Bash Visitor Center opened, Marc became the education coordinator.
Marc says he finds the most rewarding part of his career to be that it's something he's "passionate about and that it led to meeting [his] wife." She was on a guided tour and Marc started talking to her after the tour was over. They crossed paths two years later, and shortly after married. They now live at the observatory and have two boys, Haden and Shadix.
Marc says he is delighted now to be training summer college students working at the observatory, remembering his first summer there and how it changed his life completely.
The University of Texas at Austin’s observatory is high in the hills of west Texas. In this special episode, Mat Kaplan joins the tens of thousands who visit it each year. The occasion was the dedication of the vastly upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope, third largest on Earth.