The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Max Erikson

Goldendale ramps up eclipse preparations


August 16, 2017

Larry Gourley

SUN-DAY: For anyone who doesn't get the big deal about the eclipse coming , Monday, here's a useful perspective from the "darnedest thing" school of thought:the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, so there's no way it should be able to be totally eclipsed by the moon-but the sun is also 400 times farther from Earth than the moon. The "darnedest thing" is, it's that distance that makes it possible to have a total solar eclipse. Then people ponder how that could be sheer coincidence. The center totality picture her was shot by Goldendale's Larry Gourley during the 1979 eclipse. Gourley pulled over on Highway 97 to take the picture.

The most anticipated event of the summer is just five days away, and the City of Goldendale is getting ready for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, with large numbers of people expected to crowd the area the for the historical event.

Goldendale will have an eclipse party on Aug 20 to commemorate the event on Main Street from 7-9 p.m. with live music by Lem Pratt and the Hard Road Band, playing classic country and gospel.

The Chamber of Commerce is encouraging downtown storefronts to remain open during the eclipse party to add to the festivities and encourage business for the local economy.

"Planning for the solar eclipse has been a community-wide group effort over the last six months," Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Dana Peck said. "It's been a real demonstration of how local groups can work together to create fun and safe events."

The News Director for Gorge Country Media, Roger Nichols, will be the keynote speaker and master of ceremonies for the eclipse party and Troy Carpenter of the Goldendale Observatory will be on hand to give some history on the event, explain the science behind solar eclipses and answer any questions that people may have about the phenomenon.

"There is a special history with the eclipse and how it is connected to Goldendale," Carpenter said. "The 1918 eclipse, the 1979 eclipse and this one, are some of the reasons for building the observatory."

Carpenter says that it is fitting that the original mirror in the telescope will be used one last time before the facilities are upgraded.

"We had the delays on the upgrades for the Observatory which is okay because it is the original mirror still in the telescope, and that adds to the overall history of the facility and how it connects to the eclipses."

There will be a looping movie of old news videos from the 1979 eclipse and fresh Mexican food from 7 Lleguas and Veracruz.

Starting early Monday morning Aug. 21, Observatory Hill Road will be closed for the eclipse and overnight parking is prohibited at the Observatory. The Observatory will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. but can only be accessed by walking or by taking one of the shuttle buses that will be staging at Goldendale High School at 8 a.m.

Two shuttle buses-one wheelchair accessible-will begin transporting people from Goldendale High School Starting at 8 a.m. Visitors and local residences are encouraged to use this service as parking is limited in the city and it provides a set destination for viewers when arriving in Goldendale. Buses will bring people back to the high school after the eclipse is over.

Goldendale High School is located at 525 E Simcoe Dr. in Goldendale.

The eclipse will officially start at 9:09 a.m. as the moon slowly begins to cross over the sun. By 10:22 a.m. maximum coverage of the sun will occur. Goldendale is slightly north of the path of totality, so the moon will cover 97.4 percent on the sun here. The moon will continuing crossing the sun until 11:42 a.m. when the eclipse will end.

Carpenter says that because we are not in the path of totality it won't go pitch black, but will look like a dark cloud is passing over, and stars won't be visible.

To see 100 percent coverage or totality, you would need to travel south to central Oregon which is expecting up to 100,000 people for the event.

There will be five viewing stations in our area that are free to the public:

• Goldendale Observatory (via shuttle bus)

• Klickitat County Courthouse lawn

• Stonehenge Memorial

• Maryhill Museum of Art

• Maryhill Winery

Viewing stations can hold 4-8 people and will look like trellises with three layers of protective material for the roof, so people can watch the eclipse through them.

Viewing the eclipse without protective eyewear or solar glasses can cause serious damage to your eyes. Be sure to use approved solar eye protection. Solar glasses are available for purchase at the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce at 903 E. Broadway.

City and county law enforcement, park rangers and emergency medical services will be in full capacity and are taking the utmost precautions to ensure the safety of everyone. They are reminding people to be safe and responsible and be aware of current fire dangers in the area.

Law enforcement is also concerned about traffic and road conditions on Hwy 97 and Hwy 14 and Interstate 84 in Oregon. With thousands of people expected to be travelling, be ready for back-ups and have plenty of food and water in case of longer-than-expected delays.

People will be travelling here from around the world including a large group from Japan, who will be staying at the Ponderosa Motel and the Quality Inn.

"We have a group of 57 who will be staying with us," Ponderosa manager Mike Jealous said. "They are unbelievably excited."

Jealous says that they are booked for the eclipse and they have been receiving 4-5 calls an hour from people wondering if they have had any cancellations.

The Quality Inn is also booked to full capacity and have been for months.

"We are not sure how many people will be here," Peck said. "It's hard to predict but we do want people to enjoy Goldendale before they go back home."


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