Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Town Monday Night Sky Gazing, Julian, California



Julian, California is a mountain town located about sixty miles northeast of San Diego. It has a population of about 1600. Among other things, it's well known for apple pies, tours of a real gold mine and beefalo burgers. Julian also has an amazing used book store--the Julian Book House.

And, surprise, surprise, there is an awesome private planetarium located in Julian. It's The Observer's Inn. You can choose to stay there (we didn't) or just reserve time in the evening to stare at the heavens through their powerful telescopes (we did). These "sky tours" conducted by Mike Leigh are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.



Leigh, an astronomy afficionado for years, built his observatory at an elevation of about 4300 feet, high up enough that he can take advantage of the clear night sky. Then he got a few high-end telescopes. We're talking truly research grade here. As in, at least one is a telescope fit for a small country. This telescope is so good, you can make out details on spy satellites. Which has earned Mr. Leigh a couple of chats with the FBI. (from the San Francisco Chronicle)



Each sky tour is different. Each sky tour comes with Mike's wonderful commentary. And what might you see? Various planets, constellations, stars, double stars, comets, other galaxies. It's truly incredible. And there aren't many places in the world that give you this kind of a show. For about $20 a person. Observer's Inn is actually internationally known.

We went a couple of winters ago. Not to sound corny, but for my little family, it was an out-of-this-world experience.

(And, besides the magical sights from the telescopes, my kids didn't think the little room with hot chocolate and cookies was too shabby!)


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his post about Charles Goodnight and find links to the other participants.

25 comments:

deboradale said...

This would be an out-of-this-world experience for my little family, too, Barrie. It sounds wonderful. It's just the kind of day trip we would love.

There's a planetarium on one of the Vanderbilt properties (on Long Island). We toured the house and his personal museum, then spent the evening hours at the planetarium. It was the perfect day out... the kind that feels like a mini-vacation.

If I'm ever in Julian, California, I'm looking up Observer's Inn.
~Debbie

PJ Hoover said...

I love astronomy and have thus far managed to push the love off on my son also. Daughter is too young to care much yet. But this sounds fantastic!

Charles Gramlich said...

I wish we had such a place near us. I'd love to see more of this kind of thing.

Rebecca said...

oooh. I love that kind of stuff. Thanks for the tip. I will have to check that out next time I am in that next of the woods!

Michele said...

Oh, how funny! My husband and I were just talking about Julian's apple pie topped with cinnamon ice cream yesterday! (Also, the King Leo candy factory down the road from the town. LOL)

But, I didn't even know about the planetarium. That is so cool! It does sound like a wonderful experience.

It's such a gorgeous drive out to that town. :-)

~Virginia~ said...

okay, so apparently my last comment didn't take.

i wish i knew more about astronomy--i consider myself lucky if i can find the little dipper. :)

Travis Erwin said...

I'm going if I ever make it to Julian. I love to stare up at the stars.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We have several good places to watch the sky but we never seem to do it. It looks lovely.

Maureen McGowan said...

Wow, that sounds amazing and I love the photos you posted. So cool.

Monnik said...

Oh man. This sounds amazing. What a great business concept! I would love to take my family there someday...

Linda McLaughlin said...

The observatory sounds great! My DH and I went to Julian once, but it was just a day trip. We had lunch then walked around. I gotta say, it's the best smelling town I ever visited. All those apple pies baking. Yum!

Sounds like another trip is needed, one that includes the Observers Inn.

Linda

Shelli said...

Sounds like a great place. My husband once commented about a telescope he enjoyed as a kid, so I thought it would be a great idea to buy him one for Christmas one year. I did a little research and decided to buy one that some amateur, semi-professional astronomers thought were good for starters. I had no idea that it would be like 4 to 5 feet tall and arrive in two huge boxes that barely fit in the backseat of my car! (It looked so much smaller in the pictures.) Then I came to find out that my husband wasn't too keen on having a telescope after all, and he thought I was looney for buying the thing (to say the least). We had a huge fight, and I returned it. Someday it'll make a great short story.

Bina said...

That is one place I would just love to visit! Thanks for sharing this. You are so lucky.

Family Adventure said...

Sounds like a fab place. My boys would love it! The picures are gorgeous...are they yours??

Heidi

Barrie said...

Hi Heidi! No the pics aren't mine. They're actually off the Observer's Inn website. :)

Hope the packing isn't driving you crazy. :)

Josephine Damian said...

What a great concept for an inn. Watching the stars sure beats being stuck in your room watching cable.

One of these days, I'm gonna get me a cool telescope and an astromony book and get reacquainted with the stars.

I'll bet Travis would love that beefalo burger. lol

Congrats on the interview and on finishing your latest.

Patti said...

the details you can see made me quiver a little...

Mrs. Annie said...

Fun, fun, fun!

Eileen said...

This looks AMAZING! We are headed out to Northern CA this summer and will have to take the girls there. I love it. I never heard of it, what a great place. Thanks for sharing this.
XOXO

Larramie said...

My next challenge -- at some point this year -- would be to post a virtual sky tour. How heavenly!

The Anti-Wife said...

Hot chocolate, cookies and beautiful skies. What a great combination.

JenKneeBee said...

My mom used to pull us outside when we were little to look at the stars and I loved it. This looks like so much fun.

WordVixen said...

I actually get freaked out by the stars (I believe in gravity, I just don't trust it!), but hubby would love this! He wanted to be an astronomer until his dad talked him out of it.

Nancy said...

Since we're heading out that way this August, I feel like you're my personal tour guide!

60 miles from SD, you say? What's that in hours? Tough to get to? I'm off to check mapquest.

Thanks!

Barrie said...

Nancy, Julian is definitely doable! In fact, while you're up there you should go to the gold mine, visit the amazing used bookstore, shop main street, eat at one of the many little restaurants (there's even a teahouse). So hoping our paths cross. :)