Observatory

Goldendale Observatory’s giant telescope will provide a special viewing of the transit of Mercury – a celestial event that won’t happen again until 2032.

The program is open to the public and runs from 6:30 – 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at Goldendale Observatory State Park Heritage Site, 1602 Observatory Drive, Goldendale.

The park’s educational facility and world-class telescope will be open on a limited basis beginning Friday, Nov. 8. Park staff will host an informal open house at 11 a.m. on Nov. 8, and the public is invited to attend.

The reopening follows a major renovation of the 46-year-old facility. The observatory will be open for three select weekends through the end of the year:

  • Mercury Transit Weekend — Nov. 8, 9 and 10: 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Veteran’s Day — Nov. 11: 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Thanksgiving Weekend — Nov. 30 and Dec. 1: 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Christmas/New Year’s Weekend — Dec. 27, 28 and 29: 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.

Anyone interested in attending the open house, the transit of Mercury or visiting the observatory this winter must schedule a visit during these dates and times. Contact the park at 509-773-3141 or goldendale.observatory@parks.wa.gov

Admission to Goldendale Observatory is free. A Discover Pass is needed most days, but Monday, Nov. 11, is one of Washington State Parks’ 12 yearly free days. This free day is in honor of Veterans Day. Visitors to Goldendale Observatory on this day will not need a Discover Pass. 

Some of the observatory’s exhibits are still under construction. Washington State Parks expects the observatory to be fully operational by spring 2020. A grand opening celebration is planned for that time.

The observatory closed in April 2018 to undergo a $5.6 million upgrade. The enhanced visitor experience includes an expanded auditorium and lobby, a larger parking lot, new exhibits and an upgraded main telescope.

A transit of Mercury occurs when the planet passes in front of the sun. Those who wish to view the transit and can’t make it to the Goldendale Observatory program should take proper safety precautions.

The Goldendale Observatory is home to one of the nation’s largest publicly accessible telescopes. The observatory is situated on five hilltop acres 2,100 feet above sea level and 2 miles north of downtown Goldendale. The site is well-known for its vivid sunsets, stunning daytime views of the countryside and magnificent views of the universe at night. The park has attracted hundreds of thousands of sky-watchers since its dedication in 1973. Learn more about the park and observatory.

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