Press Release

October 09, 2023

Goldendale Observatory celebrates golden anniversary

Media contact

Name Meryl Lassen
Department Communications

The Goldendale Observatory, perched on the Columbia Plateau in the town of Goldendale, will celebrate its 50th year of operations this weekend.

Washington State Parks, which acquired the observatory in 1980, will host an event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 to mark the occasion. The family-friendly event, which is free and open to community members and astronomy fans, will feature light refreshments, speakers, educational programming, live views of the sun streamed from the solar telescope to big screens and replays of that morning’s annular eclipse.

A Discover Pass is required to park at the observatory, but the park will have shuttles to and from Goldendale High School between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. for the event.

The Goldendale Observatory houses one of the largest publicly accessible telescopes in the nation. In the 1960s, four amateur astronomers associated with Clark College built the facility’s current 24-inch Cassegrain telescope.

A chance stopover in Goldendale on a scouting trip for a home for the telescope led the four telescope builders to meet with the town’s mayor. Thus, they made the decision to site their telescope in Goldendale. Bank loans, a federal grant and donations funded construction, and the building opened Oct. 13, 1973.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the park’s long-time Interpretive Specialist, Troy Carpenter became an early adopter of virtual programming. The park live streamed programs on YouTube and Facebook, using technology adapted for the telescope, and thus bringing the wonders of astronomy to laptops and living rooms worldwide.

Back in-person for some time now, regular programming by appointment is interspersed with public events to observe eclipses, comets, auroras and more.

Goldendale Observatory 50th Anniversary


Saturday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. 


Goldendale Observatory State Park Heritage Site
1602 Observatory Dr.
Goldendale, WA 98620

Shuttles will run to the Observatory from Goldendale High School, 525 E. Simcoe Dr. during the anniversary event. Please call State Parks’ East Columbia Gorge area office at (509) 773-3141 for more information.