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.