Destination: Inaugural Julian Starfest - August 2008
One of the highlights of a wheeling trip is sitting around a campfire at the end of the day. In the evening twilight faint spots of white begin to fill the sky. Daylight soon becomes starlight.
The first dim spots of light to be seen in the sky are planets. As the sunlight fades, more distant stars begin to appear.
Over the years I have learned to identify the North Star and the Big Dipper. Along with Orion's Belt and the Seven Sisters, which is familiar to many as the logo of Izuzu, they are some of the more recognizable star formations.
But, what are the other stars? Why do the havens hold such a fascination for the human imagination?
Thanks to Julian Merchants Association and the Julian Chamber of Commerce, the opportunity was available through the Inaugural Julian Starfest to learn more about the stars.
Nestled in the mountains east of San Diego is the little town of Julian. Remnants of its mining heritage draw many visitors to Julian. Today's attraction was night-time activities featuring a "star tour". The Julian Starfest was a gathering of amateur astronomers to share their discoveries and knowledge of the skies with others. Star Parties are a common occurrence in many areas. Clear night skies are the only requirement and the southwest deserts provide ideal conditions for clear night skies. A small vendor show featured displays the latest astronomy offerings from Meade Instruments and Celestron along with a variety of optics suppliers.
One vendor display featured a radio-controlled 1/4-scale model of the Mars Rover.
As night settles, red light becomes the rigor. Night vision is prized and red light assists in maintaining good night vision. The scopes of various sizes are in place. Refractors, reflectors and light amplification discussions fil the air. An occasional digital camera on tripod experimenting with time lapse photography was in the mix of 4 inch to 10 inch telescopes.
Some scopes are pointed at Jupiter with four of its moons visible; others were pointed at more distant star formations. Globular clusters, light years, nebula, galaxies, UCLA star, M13, M10, and M81 are terms heard as people viewed distant heavenly bodies. Telescope owners shared their knowledge with the many first timers viewing the stars through powerful telescopes.
As the crowds thinned, die-hard amateur astronomers remained until dawn's early light began showing in the eastern sky. Organizers promised a bigger event for the 2009 Julian Starfest.
Julian offers some of the darkest skies in southern California and superb astronomical viewing.
For more information visit:
Observers Inn - http://www.observersinn.com
Julian, CA Chamber of Commerce - http://www.julianca.com/