All overnight spots are sold out. The public portion of the event will be held 1 - 8 PM and all are welcome to attend. Thank you for your interest.

The Mount St. Helens Institute is excited to team up with Rose City Astronomers and Friends of Galileo to bring you the 4th annual Sky and Star Party. 

August 24th 1 PM to 8 PM - Speakers, solar viewings and children's activities at the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater, in the backyard of Mount St. Helens. Public night viewing will be held Saturday, August 24th.


Registration opened August 14th, 2019 at 3:00 PM. Note: Advanced registration is required. 

Science and Learning Center at Coldwater

19000 Spirit Lake Hwy
Toutle, WA 98649

There is NO cell service in this area. Please print/download directions in advance.

The gate will open at 1 pm. If you arrive at the area earlier, please consider visiting the Johnston Ridge Observatory, Coldwater Lake or the Hummocks Trail (all within a 15-minute drive from the building.) The on-site phone for emergencies is 360-274-2114.


Follow these links to reserve your tent site and event pass, RV site and event pass, indoor bunks and event pass, or just a day-use passes.

If staying overnight, you do not need to purchase a separate day-use pass.


Option Description Number Available Fee
Tent Site Beautiful tent sites of Mount St. Helens and Coldwater Lake. 1 tent/site. Dinner, breakfast and event activities for each person. 30 $20/tent site + $35/person for meals & activities
RV Site Dry no-hook up, RV site with a view of Mount St. Helens. Dinner, breakfast and event activities for each person. 18 $20/RV site + $35/person for meals & activities
Indoor Bed Bunkroom accommodations inside the Center. Dinner, breakfast and event activities for each person. 16 $60/person include lodging, meals and accommodations
Event Day Pass Attend the event for the day and evening (depart by 12AM). 100 $15/person
Dinner for the Day Visitors If you do not bring your own dinner, have dinner with us. Dinner purchases must be made in advance and will not be available the day of. 100 $10/person


Dawn J Nilson, International Dark Sky Association (IDA) Delegate

Since the Apollo 8 launched, Dawn has been hooked on astronomy. At a time when girls played only with baby dolls and “dress-up” Barbie, Dawn was wearing an astronaut costume and playing inside her miniature Gemini capsule. She was building model space ships and devouring every astronomy book in the public library. With Earth being her favorite planet, Dawn became a professional natural resources manager. Yet, Dawn’s passion for astronomy continues as a long-time board member and Dark Sky Preservation Director of Portland’s Rose City Astronomers and as an IDA Delegate. She regularly conducts “sidewalk” astronomy, teaches astronomy in elementary schools, creates and participates in public outreach events, and advocates locally for dark skies. As Chair of the newly formed Oregon Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, she now advocates for dark skies statewide and is coordinating a campaign to designate Oregon’s first International Dark Sky Place.

"Dark Matters." Dawn will discuss how the dark is just as important as the day to most life on Earth and how we can protect and preserve the dark. She will use hands-on demonstrations to show how light pollution compromises the night. Get ready for some audience participation. You may be asked to dress like a pirate! What?? 

Howard Knytych

Howard Knytych retired from information technology in 2005, and now has the time to pursue the interest he's had in astronomy since he first looked through a friend's WWII binoculars at the age of ten. His interest in the sky sprouted in childhood, but grew and branched into active passions throughout his life. He became a commercial pilot and FAA flight instructor in his thirties and conducted search and rescue missions in his forties. One evening while serving as an instructor at a mountain flying clinic in Lakeview, OR, he saw the night sky from the ramp and was inspired to pursue astronomy. Since then he’s become active in the astronomy community in Portland. After retiring in 2005 he started his encore career as an astronomy instructor at Concordia University. In 2008 he and his wife Darla spent part of the summer doing astronomy outreach at Chaco Canyon, NM. In 2014 he traveled to Africa to be a resident astronomer at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia.

"Things That Fall From the Sky or Chicken Little Was Right" is a presentation about the inevitable probability that Earth will experience major impact events. We'll discuss the results of those events, and the fact that since we are developing the technology to deal with near-Earth asteroids (NEOs), we can begin to see them as an opportunity rather than a threat.


Call (360) 449-7883 or email info@mshinstitute.org.


Learn more about how to sign-up.