Night sky program offered again this Saturday

Star gazers will have an opportunity to take advantage of an astronomy program, Saturday, Aug. 13.
The star gazer event will begin at Grand Coulee Dam’s Visitor Center auditorium at 7:15 p.m., and end up at Crown Point, using telescopes to search the skies.
The event is sponsored by the National Park Service and Washington State Parks, the Bureau of Reclamation and Grand Coulee Dam.

Nebulae will be one phenomenon stargazers will look for Saturday night.

The program is similar to one held early in July.
The program begins with an introduction to the night sky by NPS Sky Ranger Janice Elvidge. That will take about 45 minutes.
The group will then gather at Crown Point, where telescopes will be set up for examination of a galaxy, nebula and the moon, as well as other wonders of the sky.
The entire program is free and suitable for persons of all ages.
Organizers encourage people to bring their telescopes and binoculars and to wear or bring a warm coat. 

Lower lake means better beaches

I’ve got some good news and some not so great news, both about lake levels– on different lakes.

First the good. Lake Roosevelt has started to drop. Tonight, it’s down a little more than a foot.

You might not call this non-touristy spot on North Marina Way a "beach," but my dog loves it anyway. And sandy beaches will be better now, too.

That means we’ve got beaches! Last weekend, we boated to Swawilla Basin, an area with great beaches, but found no beach at all. But the big lake just started down last night and will likely continue.

By the weekend it will probably be down 2 to 3 feet, which I consider in the perfect range. It exposes beaches and leaves driftwood along the shore, not in the way of boats.

By the way, we found swimming to be quite pleasant, not cold, like it was just a couple weeks ago. This despite the fact that this has been the coolest summer since I’ve lived here (1989).

Now about Banks Lake.
The USBR started taking it down Aug. 1, as it does every year. But this time is different. A drop of 5 feet is normal, but by the end of August it’s predicted to be 13.5 feet down, depending on irrigators’ needs.
By October, it’s supposed to be at the record low of 30 feet below full, and it will stay that way until spring.

This planned drop is for maintenance of several things, including infrastructure at the south end of the lake.
The lake will still be accessible to boats at Coulee Playland in Electric City.

See the night sky, coulee style

Live a little, learn a lot with this fresh look at the night sky

One of the great things about being located where there is a part of the National Park Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and a great state park is that those entities all come with talented, interesting people.

And some of those folks will put on an interesting program for free this Saturday night.

A community astronomy program will be held July 9, beginning at Grand Coulee Dam’s Visitor Center at 7:15 p.m. and ending up at Crown Point at 9 p.m., according to Janice Elvidge of the National Park Service.

Elvidge will begin the night’s program in the Visitor Center auditorium where she will present an introduction to the night sky and explore through pictures some of the wonders of the heavens.
After that part of the program, those attending will retire to Crown Point where they will get to take a look at the galaxy, a nebula, the moon and one of our solar system’s planets through a telescope.

The Crown Point overlook, by the way, is a rather out-of-the-way must see, to which you might wish to return the next morning if you haven’t been there yet. It offers a fantastic view down river and up lake way over the top of the dam.

And if you’re a geo-cacher, there’s a nearby treasure to find. I’ll bet even Elvidge doesn’t know that.

Elvidge encourages people to bring their telescopes, spotting scopes or binoculars, if they have them, and to wear warm clothes.

She said the program will only be cancelled if it rains.

The event is sponsored by Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington State Parks, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Fireworks, musicians, food, crafts, fun and a huge waterfall

A great printed publication just came out on the festivities planned for this weekend and July 4 in the Grand Coulee Dam area.

To see it online, click on the link image below. It’s pretty nice, informative too.

[issuu layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Fcolor%2Flayout.xml backgroundcolor=A4112B showflipbtn=true proshowmenu=true documentid=110628033800-36ada0fea6634aaf823b029b4cb6d770 docname=festivalofamerica2011 username=starnews loadinginfotext=Festival%20of%20America showhtmllink=true tag=4th width=600 height=419 unit=px]

The Fourth will be dramatically different at Grand Coulee Dam this year

Official prediction: water to spill over the top

Sunrise adds a glimmer to a waterfall over Grand Coulee Dam 300 feet tall and half a mile wide.

This year’s Fourth of July will be dramatically different at Grand Coulee Dam and on Lake Roosevelt behind it.

You’ll be able to watch the dramatic spill at Grand Coulee Dam this weekend or over the Fourth of July holiday.

It’s rare, but this year’s climate conditions actually lead to a fairly stable prediction: expect water to overtop Grand Coulee Dam for at least a week and a half.

The long, cool spring, coupled with a double the normal snowpack in the mountains upstream (including Canada) from Grand Coulee has led to a later-than-normal spring runoff, and a big one at that.

Lake Roosevelt is quite low for this time of year, but very accessible, with great big beaches – hundreds of miles of them.

And visitors to the Grand Coulee Dam Festival of America July 2, 3 and 4 will be able to get an up-close view of the 300-foot-high, half-mile wide waterfall that will cool the park below the Visitor Center at the dam.

Over the last month, dam operators have been regulating the rise of the lake by “spilling” water through outlet tubes in the middle of the dam big enough to drive a truck through.

From 50,000 to 100,000 cubic feet per second shoots through those tubes into the river below. That’s up to about 750,000 gallons each second, less than half the river’s flow of about 2 million gps.

My house is about a half mile from the face of the dam, and my kitchen cupboards rattle just a little from the impact.

A more serious problem is that the resulting air injected into the water kills fish downstream, which take in too much nitrogen-saturated water through their gills.

A fish farm 20 miles downstream raising 2.7 million steelhead trout was losing them by the thousands. That operation has now apparently lost at least 100,000 of its big triploids, and anglers are snatching them up in Lake Rufus Woods — that part of the Columbia River between Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams.

Even so, operators will need to keep spilling through the outlet tubes even after the water tops the dam until enough volume is spilling over for a controlled spill, said Bureau of Reclamation Public Affairs Officer Lynne Brougher.

When you see the nice spill, realize that the management of the flow at this dam is the key to managing a river draining an area the size of France so that Portland, Ore. and points downstream does not flood.

Not letting the lake fill too quickly is critical in that plan.

“Actually,” Bougher said, “the system is working as it was designed to do this year.” She said the lower Columbia has been held right at flood stage, “and we’ve still got room” to fill the lake.

Normally full by July 4, Lake Roosevelt will likely be full about July 10 or 11, she said.

 

%d bloggers like this: