By Stephan Smith, Marketing Committee Member, Maryhill Museum of Art

One midsummer evening long ago I sat with my grandmother in front of her massive Magnavox and watched the ghostly black and white figures of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bounce across the Sea of Tranquility.  I ran out to her front yard and high in the southern sky was a quarter-crescent moon. Somewhere, up there, in one of those soft gray patches, were two men making history and I knew right then, I would remember it for the rest of my life.

It doesn’t take a spectacle like Apollo 11 to give one goose bumps and feel the magnificence of it all. Cast your eyes up on a warm summer night and you look back in time, not only to your memories of doing so as a child, but literally due to the fact that the light entering your eyes left those stars hundreds and thousands of years ago.

July 20, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of that first moon landing. And there is no better place to think of space and time and all the stars that come with it, than on an overnight skywatching event at Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge.

One night a year, Maryhill pulls an all-nighter. Far from city lights, the museum and the Rose City Astronomers provide the perfect venue for this overnight gazing event – Starry Night at the Museum. The museum provides the grounds, the astronomers bring their big telescopes and hopefully, you will bring your family and friends with a tent or trailer and make a memory to last a lifetime.

That Saturday night the stars of summer will put on their annual show. And with the darkness that this location provides, you will see them as you’ve never seen them before. Jupiter and four of its moons along with Saturn will shine brightly, joined by many nebula, star clusters and multi-colored double stars. You’ll see a few satellites too traversing the sky, intersecting the Milkyway standing on its end–a celestial brush stroke of a billion stars.  Throw down a blanket, lay down in the grass and just do nothing but stare into the jewel box above you. Just like you did when you were a kid.

Summers are the season for making memories. Those who have visited our Museum and grounds know it’s a place you will never forget. At Maryhill, beautiful things just don’t reside just on our walls or behind glass cases. Beauty is all around you.  And this July 20, those beautiful things will shine high overhead.

Nature's Jewel Box Glitters Over Maryhill Museum of Art - Maryhill Museum - Columbia GorgeStarry Night at the Museum
Saturday, July 20 | 3 p.m. onwards

Join us at Maryhill Museum of Art for this fantastic family-friendly event – a magical overnight campout and stargazing experience in one of the most majestic settings imaginable. Volunteers from Rose City Astronomers will provide telescopes to give visitors awe-inspiring views of the summer night sky. Catch glimpses of the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, Sagittarius, Jupiter, Venus and Mars! A special group of children’s telescopes gives little ones the same incredible views.

Learn about the stars during a twilight conversation with Troy Carpenter from the Goldendale Observatory and storyteller Will Hornyak sharing a selection of star stories. Arrive early in the afternoon for sun viewing with special filters, hosted by the Friends of Goldendale Observatory (starts at 3 p.m.). Explore the museum, which will be open late until 7 p.m., and have dinner in the cafe before it closes at 6:30 p.m.

Visitors who wish to stargaze without camping, are welcome. Stargazing only is FREE on the grounds of the museum.

Cost for Tent or RV Campsite: $50 members | $60 non-members. Includes campsite in the gardens at Maryhill, and one (1) free admission to the museum for each member in your party. Tent and RV sites accommodate one tent or RV. Campers provide their own tents and camping gear. No cooking or fires permitted. There are no RV (electrical) hook-ups or showers. Deadline to register for tent or RV site is July 15. Register online here.