For star-gazers, the view from the Goldendale Observatory soon will be a little different. Starting June 29, crews began to take down the large telescope that has anchored the observatory since 1973.
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced this week that the observatory will remain open this summer while the telescope is undergoing an upgrade. Visitors can expect portable telescopes for evening shows and afternoon shows using the facility’s solar telescope.
The main scope is expected to be back in service by this fall, rebuilt with state-of-the-art equipment including a new control system, a new mirror to improve resolution and a new pedestal and adjustment plate.
The $50,000 telescope work is part of a multiyear $1.3 million capital investment in the facility, which will include replacing the interpretive center, its deck, sidewalks and the solar telescope, said parks spokesperson Toni Droscher. The observatory dome will remain.
It’s the first major upgrade for the telescope, which was built in the 1960s by four amateur astronomers from Vancouver. Looking for a suitable home for the scope with clear, dark skies, the builders settled on Goldendale and worked out a deal with the city, which raised donations to build the observatory.
The observatory is open Wednesday through Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. with shows at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.