· Frequently Asked Questions ·
Q: Why are you tearing down Goldendale Observatory?
A: Goldendale Observatory has developed a good problem; being too popular. A multi-phase capital upgrade project of considerable scope has been approved by the Washington State Legislature. Most of the campus structures built in 1973 are being demolished in preparation for construction of a much larger and more modern facility capable of serving large crowds. Visit the upgrade page for more info.
Q: What is the cost/What are your hours/How do I get there?
A: Answers to these and similar questions may be found on the Visit page.
Q: What is there to see at the Observatory?
A: Unlike many observatories open to the public, Goldendale Observatory is not a museum. Afternoon and evening programs involve informative lessons supported by expert staff and live public telescope observation. Check the show and telescope pages for more information.
Q: Do I need a reservation? And does a reservation grant me exclusive park access?
A: Reservations do not guarantee exclusive facility access and are only required if you are bringing more than 10 people. Reservations do prevent scheduling overlap with other large groups.
Q: May I show up whenever I like? What about after hours?
A: It is highly recommended that visitors plan around program schedules. The facility does not remain open after hours and gates close at midnight. Arriving in the middle of presentations can be disruptive for staff and other guests. Please consult the visit page for showtimes and special events.
Q: May I bring my pet to the observatory?
A: Only service dogs are allowed inside the observatory buildings - no exceptions. Individuals with animals indoors, off leashes, or leaving waste will be ticketed.
Q: Is the Observatory kid-friendly?
A: Kids have fun at Goldendale Observatory, but guardians should keep a watchful eye on young hands as there are many fragile antiques and sensitive instruments in the facility. Additionally, young children may have trouble staying awake for the entirety of evening shows.
Q: Can the telescopes see through clouds?
A: No, but engaging multimedia presentations still take place during poor viewing conditions.
Q: May I bring my own telescope or camera and set it up at the Observatory?
A: Absolutely, but please choose a location that does not obstruct visitor foot traffic.
Q: May I sleep, camp out, or hook-up an RV at the Observatory overnight?
A: No. Goldendale Observatory is not a camping park, but there is sufficient space to park an RV during regular operating hours. For camping, please consider Brooks Memorial or Maryhill State Parks, both less than 25 minutes from the Observatory North and South, respectively. Local motels, such as ThePonderosa and Quality Inn & Suites are also available for those wishing to stay overnight.
Q: I have purchased and named a star; can it be viewed at the Observatory?
A: Perhaps. Purchased stars are unofficial and limited to faint stars which can be challenging and time consuming to locate, even with a telescope. We ask that individuals wait until the end of the show to attempt these viewings. Please confirm that the star is up during the month in question by determining what constellation it is in.
Q: Will Observatory staff discuss my religious questions or statements?
A: No. The Goldendale Observatory is a secular and publicly funded and staffed State Park facility. Staff are not permitted to discuss or endorse any individuals or groups privately or publicly held faith, religious beliefs, or philosophy. Doing so would be unconstitutional under state and federal law, which prohibits public entities from favoring one belief system over another, or favoring religion over nonreligion. Please be considerate of others who may hold other or no systems of belief.
Note: Astrology, as well as ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and other mythologies may be discussed as they relate to modern and historical astronomical terms, constellations, etc.