Julian + The Cosmos: Free Public Star Party

Peer deeper into the dark sky at a spot nestled high in the hills.

Julian StarFest

THE SUMMER OF PLUTO... has provided many a gift to those who pause each night to stare in the vast space over our heads. Those astounding photos from the way, way out there hunk of glorious rock and ice kept earthlings transfixed over several days, and many a maven of astronomy vowed to spend more evenings with the telescope. Pair Pluto's revelations with the Blue Moon on the final day of July and the nights when Jupiter and Venus nearly "touched" in the night sky and you have a cosmic feast for those who are fans of what's beyond this corner of the Solar System. Many of those fans will make for a certain Gold Rush town over the middle weekend of August, when astronomers gather to throw the Julian StarFest. It's a multi-day, look-up-and-learn to-do, but its big centerpiece is the public star party that goes down -- er, up -- on the Saturday night. That's when any lover of nebula and star fields may join in, for free. Aspiring astronomers can both chat up the scientists and passion astronomers about galactic topics as well as gaze through the many telescopes dotting the grounds. Oh, and those grounds? Find them at...

MENGHINI WINERY... in Julian. If you've been in this area after sundown, you know it stays very dark, which is pretty prime for star-watching. This means that getting from where you park to the clutch of telescopes requires some light, but you also don't want to introduce traditional flashlights into the realm of the astronomy party. "A red-light flashlight" is recommended, if you join the free bash, which is on from 7 to 9 o'clock on Saturday, Aug. 15.

WANT MORE WONDER? Get to know the San Diego Astronomy Association, which organizes this popular to-the-mountains, gaze-up-and-feel-thrills happening.

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