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October 23, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Celebrate stars, and the state’s big telescope, in Goldendale

Stephen Stout, who recently retired, focuses in on the star Vega with the telescope at Goldendale Observatory. Stout's years of service will be celebrated Saturday during the observatory's 40th anniversary party. (photo by Alan Berner / The Seattle Times, 2010)

Stephen Stout, who recently retired, focuses in on the star Vega with the telescope at Goldendale Observatory. Stout’s years of service will be celebrated Saturday during the observatory’s 40th anniversary party. (photo by Alan Berner / The Seattle Times, 2010)

Combine a fall-color drive over Satus Pass or up the Columbia River Gorge this weekend with a celebration of the night sky and the state observatory at Goldendale.

Goldendale Observatory State Park celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, with a farewell to retired longtime interpretive specialist Stephen Stout and a welcome to Troy Carpenter, who took up the post this summer. “Troy has a fun ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ sort of way of turning complex scientific topics into something the average park visitor can understand,” says Ranger Andy Kallinen.

Kallinen said this is just the start of “polishing up” this gem of the park system, which got a recent allocation for improvements from the state Legislature.

The observatory’s 24-inch Cassegrain reflecting telescope was built in the early 1970s by four amateur astronomers from Vancouver, Wash., who ultimately donated it to the town of Goldendale, which built the observatory. Washington State Parks acquired it in 1980.

At 2 p.m. Saturday there will be cake and speeches, with a star party planned for that evening if the sky is clear.

Comments | Topics: astronomy, fall drives, Goldendale

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