The most anticipated event of the summer is just five days away, and the city of Goldendale is getting ready for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, with large numbers of people expected to crowd the area for the historical event.
Goldendale will have an eclipse party on Aug. 20 to commemorate the event on Main Street from 7-9 p.m., with live music by Lem Pratt and the Hard Road Band, playing classic country and gospel.
The Goldendale Chamber of Commerce is encouraging downtown stores to remain open during the eclipse party to add to the festivities and encourage business for the local economy.
“Planning for the solar eclipse has been a community-wide group effort over the last six months,” said Dana Peck, executive director of the chamber. “It’s been a real demonstration of how local groups can work together to create fun and safe events.”
News Director for Gorge Country Media, Rodger Nichols, will be the keynote speaker and master of ceremonies for the eclipse party and Troy Carpenter of the Goldendale Observatory will be on hand to give some history on the event, explain the science behind solar eclipses and answer any questions that people may have about the phenomenon.
“There is a special history with the eclipse and how it is connected to Goldendale,” Carpenter said. “The 1918 eclipse, the 1979 eclipse and this one, are some of the reasons for building the observatory.”
Carpenter says that it is fitting that the original mirror in the telescope be used one last time before the facilities are upgraded.
“We had the delays on the upgrades for the observatory which is okay because it is the original mirror still in the telescope, and that adds to the overall history of the facility and how it connects to the eclipses.”
There will be a looping movie of old news videos from the 1979 eclipse and fresh Mexican food from 7 Lleguas and Veracruz.
Starting early Monday morning, Aug. 21, Observatory Hill Road will be closed for the eclipse and overnight parking is prohibited at the site.
The observatory will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. but can only be accessed by walking or by taking one of the shuttle buses that will be staging at Goldendale High School at 8 a.m.
Two shuttle buses—one wheelchair accessible—will begin transporting people from Goldendale High School, starting at 8 a.m. Visitors and local residences are encouraged to use this service as parking is limited in the city and it provides a set destination for viewers when arriving in Goldendale. Buses will bring people back to the high school after the eclipse is over. Goldendale High School is located at 525 E Simcoe Drive.
The eclipse will officially start at 9:09 a.m. as the moon slowly begins to cross over the sun. By 10:22 a.m. maximum coverage of the sun will occur. Being that Goldendale is slightly north of the Path of Totality, the moon will cover 97.4 percent on the sun here. The moon will continue crossing the sun until 11:42 a.m. when the eclipse will end.
Carpenter says that because Goldendale is not in the path, it won’t go pitch black, but will look like a dark cloud passing over and stars won’t be visible.
To see 100 percent coverage or totality, you would need to travel south to central Oregon which is expecting up to 100,000 people for the event, he said.
There will be five viewing stations in the area that are free to the public:
• Goldendale Observatory (via shuttle bus)
• Klickitat County Courthouse lawn
• Stonehenge Memorial
• Maryhill Museum of Art
• Maryhill Winery
Viewing stations can hold four to eight people and will look like trellises with three layers of protective material for the roof, so people can watch the eclipse through them.
Viewing the eclipse without protective eyewear or solar glasses can cause serious damage to your eyes. Be sure to use approved solar eye protection. Solar glasses are available for purchase at the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce at 903 E. Broadway.
City and county law enforcement, park rangers and emergency medical services will be in full capacity and are taking the utmost precautions to ensure the safety of everyone.
They are reminding people to be safe and responsible and be aware of current fire dangers in the area. Law enforcement is also concerned about traffic and road conditions on Highway 97 and Highway 14 and Interstate 84 in Oregon. With thousands of people expected to be travelling, be ready for back-ups and have plenty of food and water in case of longer-than-expected delays.
People will be travelling here from around the world, including a large group from Japan, who will be staying at the Ponderosa Motel and the Quality Inn.
“We have a group of 57 who will be staying with us.” Ponderosa manager Mike Jealous said. “They are unbelievably excited.”
Jealous says that they are booked for the eclipse and they have been receiving 4-5 calls an hour from people wondering if they have had any cancellations.
The Quality Inn is also booked to full capacity and has been for months.
“We are not sure how many people will be here,” Peck said. “It’s hard to predict but we do want people to enjoy Goldendale before they go back home.”