The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Johnathan Lewis

Our Town's Pride join us to celebrate!


August 17, 2016

Patano Studio Architecture

Since 1973 Goldendale has been home to a great treasure. Right on the hill overlooking town we have one of the largest and most accessible public telescopes in the nation. The Washington State Park's Goldendale Observatory is something we can all be very proud of. And it's only going to get better. As the Observatory's Troy Carpenter points out in Shelby Taylor's article "Observatory gets new telescope, undergoes major renovation", the "fully upgraded research specification telescope will easily be one of the finest, if not the finest, public telescope in the world." And not only is the telescope getting an upgrade, the entire facility is going to be revamped, updated and expanded. Plans are being drawn up as we speak. As the project architect, Patano Studio Architecture, points out on their Facebook page: "Goldendale Observatory renovation ­ An absolutely stunning site and a rare asset for a State Parks system. We are looking forward to transforming the site and building and interpretive content."

Transformation. New beginnings. Anticipation.

Research spec telescopes, savvy interpretive staff, a supportive State Parks management team and a gorgeous new facility all add up to a huge opportunity for our community. Already the Observatory brings in over 20,000 people each year. Most of them are experiencing astronomy for the first time and just looking to get away from the big city lights and have a unique family learning experience. The updated facility has the potential to attract another strata of astronomy enthusiast as well. The Goldendale Chamber of Commerce is actively soliciting partnerships between our community, the Observatory and research and educational institutions like OMSI, WSU and UW Physics and Astronomy Departments, Portland State University, and others. The Chamber is also fostering relationships with amature astronomy clubs like Rose City Astronomers and Seattle Astronomical Society. All of these organizations are located in areas where you can't even see the MIlky Way. We have the Milky Way and we are going to have a big, state of the art telescope. If we work this right our entire community wins. More tourists and astronomy visitors equals more money passing through our community, equals more jobs, equals more stability for our existing businesses, equals more opportunity for our children. This is the very thing our community needs right now.

There's only one catch. One challenge. Amature astronomers and astronomy educators have very high standards for what classifies as dark sky. They are sensitive to B.U.G.s: Backlight, Uplight & Glare. It's not that they want our TOWN to be dark. They want our SKY to be dark. When they come to Goldendale they want that amazing dark sky experience they've been dreaming about from their cubicle in Seattle all week long.

Almost three year ago the Chamber of Commerce started talking about this Observatory tourism opportunity and the challenge we have with much our our city's lighting. They saw that education was the key to keep our city ­ and possibly the entire Gorge ­ from losing its rural dark sky charms. The Chamber then partnered with the Mid Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), The Discovery Center, the City of Goldendale, the Friends of the Goldendale Observatory (FoGO), local utilities and lighting vendors to go after a GOOGLE grant to fund the upcoming Gorge Night Sky Symposium and lighting education outreach campaign. The grant was awarded in February.

The Symposium is next week on the 18th and 19th of August.

On Thursday, August 18th the Symposium is at the Goldendale Observatory. There will be food provided by Veracruz, wine by Maryhill Winery, and beer donated from a stellar micro brew in Portland called Ecliptic Brewing. A sani­can is being donated by Bishop. The event kicks off at 5pm with opportunities to tour the Observatory and mingle. At 7pm the formal program begins with presentations by Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission, Interpretive Program Manager Ryan Karlson; Goldendale Observatory Interpretive Specialist, Troy Carpenter; and the Goldendale Area Manager, Lem Pratt. As well as an address by Goldendale's own State Representative Gina Mosbrucker­Mccabe. These presentations will cover the importance, history and future of the Goldendale Observatory. The Park's presentations will be some of the first public announcements of the Observatory renovation plans. Right after Carpenter's presentation will be the keynote address from Paul Bogard, the acclaimed Author of "The End of Night". Paul has spoken to groups all over the world and we are very fortunate to get him in Goldendale.

On Friday the 19th the Symposium moves to The Discovery Center in The Dalles, OR. Here they will have more formal talks about lighting issues, good lighting design and the amazing incentives, from KPUD and others, that are currently available to help make lighting retrofit projects affordable. Paul Bogart will start the day with a second, different from Thursday night, keynote at 9am. There are speakers from Willamette University, MIT, the International Dark Sky Association, Cyclone Lighting, Echelon Corporation, Evergreen Consulting Group, The Discovery Center, USDA and NWSEED. Multiple vendors will be on hand to demonstrate products and answer questions. Food will be provided all day. The event ends around 4PM.

The Thursday event is $35, Friday is $25 or both days for $55. For Thursday night a shuttle will be provided from the High School parking lot to save congestion and Discover Pass parking fees at the Observatory.

You can find out more information and register at:

Come, help Goldendale celebrate our gem on the hill and learn how you can take part in its future.


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