Goldendale Observatory State Park
USINFO | 2013-05-20 13:28

Goldendale Observatory State Park is an educational facility near Goldendale, Washington. It was acquired by the state of Washington in 1980, after being operated by the Goldendale Observatory Corporation since October 13, 1973.

The park consists of 5 acres (20,000 m2) of ground located on top of a 2,100 ft (640 m) hill. Access is via a winding road through an oak forest. The site includes a small picnic area, an interpretive center, amphitheater, and the observatory. It has several telescopes, including the main instrument. It receives about 30-40,000 visitors per year.

The telescope was the work of four amateur astronomers; M.W. McConnell, John Marshall, Don Conner and O.W. VanderVelden who built a 24.5 in (620 mm) Cassegrain reflecting telescope. This instrument was originally intended for Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. However, due to the typically cloudy weather on the windward side of the Cascade Mountain Range, it was eventually donated to the town of Goldendale, far enough leeward to be comparatively cloud-free. An observatory was constructed on this hilltop to the north of the town, and became a public education center. The observatory dome has a diameter of 20 ft (6.1 m).

On February 26, 1979, the observatory served as the National Astronomical League official headquarters during a solar eclipse which occurred on February 26, 1979, six years after the observatory opened. Approximately 15,000 people came to the town of Goldendale on that date to observe the eclipse.

The observatory has been threatened with closure due to state budget cuts several times beginning in 1980, but has thus far managed to remain in operation.

In 2010, the Observatory's 5 acres (20,000 m2) was designated by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Park.
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