Stargazer's Guide

Wanna See Stars? Here Are 5 Places to Go for Instant Astronomy.

Hello, heavens.

By Allison Williams June 12, 2017 Published in the July 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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Goldendale Observatory

Seattle Astronomical Society

The hometown crew holds three public star parties every month, including in Greenlake and Shoreline as well as viewing nights for members. Experts lead workshops on astrophotography, or the art of snapping pics of stuff 10,000 light-years away that has never heard of Instagram.

Theodor Jacobsen Observatory 

University of Washington undergraduates lead lectures at regular open nights at the school’s stone observatory, after which attendees can visit the dome and 1892 refracting telescope, a shiny antique that works with old-fashioned weights and dials. The relic isn’t as powerful as the modern home telescopes set up on the lawn, but it has old-school novelty.

Cloud Break Optics 

A telescope shop in a rainy city? Sure, says co-owner Stephanie Anderson, also the president of the Seattle Astronomical Society (see above). The Ballard store sells scopes for viewing the sun, stars, or your neighbors—including one giant instrument Anderson describes as “looking like the thing you shoot clowns out of.”

Battle Point Astronomical Association 

The Bainbridge Island group holds monthly open events at a park that had a former life as a naval station. The Ritchie Observatory holds a planetarium and a 27.5-inch reflector telescope, whose mirror took a year to grind and polish.

Goldendale Observatory State Park 

The region’s only publicly accessible telescope sits in a pocket-size state park southeast of Yakima, soon to undergo a $1.5 million upgrade. It lost its Dark Sky status in April, meaning it’s no longer quite dim enough to be one of the very best places for star searching. But there’s still a lot visible through the 24.5-inch reflector telescope, scheduled to remain open during the remodel. The rollicking evening lecture from the observatory director combines lots of Star Wars references with more facts and -mythology than a freshman course.

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