Goldendale Observatory State Park

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Coordinates: 45°50′20″N 120°48′55″W / 45.83889°N 120.81528°W / 45.83889; -120.81528
Goldendale Observatory
State Park
Washington State Park
Goldendale Observatory State Park - Washington.jpg
Country United States
State Washington
County Klickitat
Elevation 2,106 ft (642 m) [1]
Coordinates 45°50′20″N 120°48′55″W / 45.83889°N 120.81528°W / 45.83889; -120.81528 [1]
Area 5 acres (2 ha)
Dedication 1973 [2]
 - State park 1980
Management Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Location in the state of Washington
Website: Goldendale Observatory State Park
The main 24.5 inch Cassegrain Telescope is accessible to the general public

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 occupies 5 acres (2.0 ha) on top of a 2,100-foot (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, the four were looking for a less cloudy area to place the telescope. While getting food and gas from Goldendale, one of the workers at a diner came by and told the four that they could build the telescope in Goldendale. After some reluctance, an agreement was made and the telescope was donated to Goldendale on the condition that Goldendale build an observatory for the telescope. A local, non-profit organization was created to make the observatory which was constructed to the north of the town, soon to become a public education center.[3] The observatory dome has a diameter of 20 feet (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. In 2010, the Observatory was designated by the International Dark-Sky Association as a Dark Sky Park.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Goldendale Astronomical Observatory". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ a b "Goldendale Observatory State Park". Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ "History". Friends of Goldendale Observatory. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 

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