5 Clear Spots to Catch the Lunar Eclipse

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Grab your binoculars, put the little ones in their jammies and coats, and head out to see the total lunar eclipse on September 27. The peak will be around 7:47 p.m., which is just enough time for it to get really dark, but not too late for a school night. Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies, and check out these spots in and around Portland to watch this rare “blood moon” eclipse.

lunar eclipse

photo: Bruce Tuten via flickr

OMSI Star Party
The fun starts at OMSI’s South Parking at 6:30 p.m. The Rose City Astronomers and OMSI will have telescopes and binoculars available (bring your own if you have them) for viewing, and will be talking about the lunar eclipse and the autumn sky. This very well may be the perfect place to be in Portland for the eclipse, so plan ahead for parking.

1945 SE Water Ave.
Online: omsi.edu/starparties

L.L. Stubb Stewart State Park
OMSI also holds some of their star parties at L.L. Stubb Stewart State Park throughout the year. There isn’t a star party scheduled, but this a great place for stargazing because of its proximity to Portland without getting so much of its light pollution, and boasts a hill with a lovely view of the nighttime sky. Even if you can’t stay overnight, the park is only a 45 minute drive from Portland.

L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
Online: oregonstateparks.org

Vista House

photo: Vista House by Andy L via flickr

Vista House at Crown Point
Not only to you get a stellar view of the Columbia Gorge during the day, but when night falls, you’ll have an unobstructed (knock on wood) view of the skies as well. And at only 45 minutes east of Portland, you shouldn’t have a tough time getting the kids back home to bed lickety-split. The house itself normally closes at 6 p.m., so bundle up for a blustery gorge evening, and make a bathroom stop on the way just in case.

40700 Historic Columbia River Hwy.
Online: vistahouse.com

Rocky Butte

photo: Rocky Butte by Anthony S. via Yelp

Joseph Wood Hill Park at Rocky Butte
While it may not be pitch black, this butte is a convenient place to check out the action without going too far from home. Portland has plenty of buttes and urban mountains, but the top of Rocky Butte has a large paved park area that’s devoid of those pesky view-blocking trees. Be warned: This is a popular spot for teens on dates, but during the eclipse you’ll probably have a few more scientifically-minded compatriots around. The park is officially open until midnight.

NE Rocky Butte
Online: portlandoregon.gov

goldendale observatory

photo: Goldendale Observatory by Joe Goldberg via flickr

Goldendale Observatory
Every day is a lunar watch day at Goldendale Observatory. Expect higher attendance than usual at the evening presentation on this special night. It’s about a two-hour trek, but it might be worth it depending on the weather forecast because Goldendale may be more likely to offer clear skies. Admission is free, but you’ll need a Washington State Parks Adventure Pass to park, available on site.

1602 Observatory Dr.
Goldendale, Wa
Online: goldendaleobservatory.com

Tips: Keep in mind that the moon will be huge, but only 8 degrees above the horizon in the east for Portlanders, so make sure you have a clear view!

What’s your favorite clear spot for star- and moon-gazing? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner

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