Goldendale Observatory opens for unusual galactic event. A $5.6M update is nearly done

The Goldendale Observatory State Park will reopen temporarily in time for the transit of Mercury across the sun on the morning of Veterans Day.

The observatory closed in April 2018 for a $5.6 million upgrade.

The work is continuing but the observatory will open for three weekends through the end of the year, with the coming weekend to mark the passing of the planet Mercury in front of the sun.

The observatory will be open Nov. 8-10 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. and on Veterans Day for the transit of Mercury from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Just 13 times a century the planet can be seen moving in front of the sun, but is so small from the perspective of Earth that a telescope with a sun filter is best for viewing it.

A state Discover Pass will be needed for parking except for Veterans Day, which is a free day.

The observatory also will be open 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. for Thanksgiving on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and open for Christmas and New Year’s on Dec. 27-29.

Visitors who want to visit on any of the open times the rest of this year must contact the observatory at 509-773-3141 or goldendale.observatory@parks.wa.gov.

Some of the observatory’s exhibits are still under construction, but it should be fully operational by spring 2020.

Upgrades include renovation of the telescope, a ramp to a rooftop observation area, moving the solar dome to the roof, new restrooms, better internet service and landscape lighting to preserve dark-sky viewing.

The observatory is at 1602 Observatory Drive, Goldendale.