· Frequently Asked Questions ·
(Updated March 2020)
Q: Has the COVID-19 Viral Outbreak impacted your operations?
A: Yes, significantly. Please monitor our visit page for up-to-date facility status info.
Q: Is the Observatory upgrade project complete?
A: Yes! While some exhibit and grounds work is still anticipated throughout 2020, the facility permanently reopened on February 28th, 2020.
Q: Why did you tear down Goldendale Observatory?
A: Goldendale Observatory had developed a good problem; being too popular. A multi-phase capital upgrade project of considerable scope was approved by the Washington State Legislature. Most of the campus structures built in 1973 have been replaced by a much larger and more modern facility capable of serving large crowds. More info at the upgrade page.
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: Will observatory programs at the new facility be different?
A: Yes. With 3 times more seating, large crowds can be accommodated in a single area for presentations. The 24.5" telescope has been substantially upgraded. Self-guided exhibits are available throughout the facility. The overall visiting experience has improved in every way.
Q: Do I need a reservation? And does a reservation grant me exclusive access?
A: Reservations do not guarantee exclusive facility access and are intended to 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 observatory program schedules. Arriving in the middle of presentations can be disruptive for staff and other guests and the facility does not remain open after hours. Please consult the visit page for showtimes.
Q: May I bring my pet to observatory shows?
A: Only vested and documented service dogs are allowed inside the campus buildings - no exceptions. Individuals with animals indoors, off leashes, or leaving waste will be ticketed by Police or Park Rangers.
Q: Are the observatory programs kid-friendly?
A: Kids have fun at Goldendale Observatory, but guardians should keep a watchful eye on young hands as there are 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 indoor multimedia presentations still take place during poor viewing conditions.
Q: May I bring my own telescope or camera and set it up during observatory shows?
A: Absolutely, but please choose a location that does not obstruct visitor foot traffic.
Q: Are there indoor restroom facilities?
A: Yes, and they are accessible directly from the parking lot.
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 an oversized parking space near the main gate which can accommodate RV's and buses during regular operating hours. For camping, please consider nearby Brooks Memorial or Maryhill State Parks. Local motels, such as ThePonderosa and Quality Inn & Suites are also available.
Q: I have purchased and named a star; can it be viewed during Observatory programs?
A: Perhaps. Purchased stars are unofficial and limited to faint stars which can be challenging and time consuming to locate, even by experienced telescope operators. 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 and its satellite campuses are secular and publicly funded and staffed State Park facilities. 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.