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Julian StarFest 2016

August 4th - 6th, 2016  Menghini Winery, Julian, CA

Brought to you by the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) and the town of Julian

Calendar of Activities

NOTE: These are the activities from 2015. 2016 activities will be posted here as they are scheduled.

Photographing the August Night Sky - A Workshop by Dennis Mammana

If you've always wanted to capture the magnificent Milky Way and the stars of summer, you'll never have a better chance!  Learn the basics of capturing these phenomena with little more than a camera and tripod... all from one of America's favorite night sky photographers. Participants should bring a camera that can be manually adjusted to take time exposures, a normal or wide-angle lens (preferably with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster) that can  focus manually, a solid tripod, a remote control or cable release (helpful, but not necessary) your camera user manual, and a flashlight (with a red LED or covered with red cellophane), and must have a good working knowledge of their equipment.

The Workshop:

On Friday afternoon you'll learn the basics of setting up your gear and shooting in complete darkness. And after dark, you'll have a chance to work with Dennis to try out your new knowledge under the beautiful Julian sky (weather permitting, of course).

Friday, August 14, 2015
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.   Lecture
8:15 - 9:45 p.m.  Photography


$50 per person
Register for this event on the Attendee Registration page.

About Dennis Mammana:
In addition to being a nationally syndicated columnist and a popular lecturer, Dennis is one of only seven Americans to be an invited member of TWAN (The World At Night)—an international team of the world’s most highly-acclaimed night sky photographers. You can visit him online at or “Like” his Facebook page at

OPT Imaging Conference

Following up on 2014’s OPT Imaging Symposium, and motivated by our love of astronomy, photography, and their integration, OPT is excited to offer you an opportunity to learn more about them with us and other industry members. On Friday, August 14th, attendees of the Julian StarFest will be treated to a series of free lectures, offered by the following speakers:

10:00 AM Adam Block (Sky Center): Photoshop processing for Astro-Photography

11:00 AM Chris Hendren (OPT): “Lazy man’s guide to astro-photography”

12:00 PM Tim Puckett (SBIG): “Remote and Robotic Imaging”

1:00 PM Ken Sklute (Canon): “Night Sky Photography”

Come twilight, OPT staff will be present and ready to help you get the most out of your equipment. Whether it is help understanding polar-alignment, finer points in autoguider-callibration, or pre-planning of the capture sequence of a target you have in mind, we’ll be there with you and ready to get hands on. The hands-on workshop portion of the conference will take place near the OPT vendor booth. We encourage those that will want assistance with their personal equipment to set up in the workshop area prior to sunset. While interest and attendance will potentially affect end-time for our event, we plan to be avilable until at least 10:30 PM (about two hours after dark). Attendees that have setup near the OPT booth will be welcome and encouraged remain setup there for the night.

Live Feed - Woody Shlom

The "Live Feed" astro-video tent theater displays live and nearly-live video images from telescopes onto video monitors and a video projection screen.  Because the cameras are much more sensitive than the human eye -- you will see the images in color and in much greater detail than through an eyepiece.   

During the day two side-by-side solar scopes, each with its own camera pointed at the same area of the sun, display different live detailed images because one scope "sees" the outer Chromosphere, while the other scope "sees" the next layer down, the Photosphere.  The solar images are truly "live" and you will often see birds, airplanes or helicopters fly through the field.  You never know what kind of show the sun will put on.

At night, the telescope may be pointed at a Globular Cluster, a couple of large colorful nebulae, large emission nebulae,  planetary nebulae, and a couple of different shapes of galaxies, then one or two galaxy pairs that have collided and are in the process of combining themselves into one larger galaxy, and finally a single view of many many tiny galaxies -- what we often call "Galaxy Soup" -- illustrating how many galaxies there are in the universe. 

Guest Speakers

We are planning another year of outstanding speakers!

Here is our preliminary speaker list and schedule (more to be added soon)

FRIDAY 8/14:

John Garrett

Topic: "Life in the Zone" - a look at the search for habitable planets

Bio: John Garrett is a member of the Temecula Valley Astronomers, a contributor to the website Skeptical Science, and employed as an illustrator for Opto 22 in Temecula. His illustrations have appeared in science and trade journals, in a University of Queensland online course, and in film documentaries by National Geographic and movie director James Cameron.  John will present illustrations and animations about exoplanets, the Kepler mission, and the search for life in our region of the solar system. This presentation builds off of a previous presentation on exoplanets shared at Julian Starfest in 2010. This earlier presentation preceded the Kepler mission, and a lot has changed in exoplanet science since then.  John has presented at Starfest for the last 5 years, and previous presentations appear at his website.     Also, John has been involved in the protection of the night sky. See his TEDx talk.

Kin Searcy

Topic: Palomar Observatory


Dennis Mammana

Topic: Seven Wonders of the Cosmos

Jerry Hilburn - New Horizons Mission to Pluto

Bio: Jerry Hilburn is an active member in the San Diego Astronomy Association. His interests include tracking asteroids, exoplanet photometry, and teaching practical astronomy techniques to budding amateur scientists. Jerry feels that the most important message we can send to children is that there is great opportunity in the future of space exploration and that they must prepare now for that future by learning, questioning, and exploring the space sciences. In addition to his public speaking role with NASA/JPL he also works to provide free star party events for non profit organizations and schools in Southern California.

Tim Thompson

Topic: A Universe of Stars. A review of the observational properties and physics of stars.

Bio:Tim Thompson received his degrees in physics from California State University at Los Angeles; B.S. in 1978 and M.S. in 1987. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory technical staff in January 1981, and retired from JPL in November 2008. He earned two NASA Group Achievement Awards for his participation in the NASA Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, and his work as a science team member for the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) project, and a NASA Center Award for his role in supporting the Center for Long Wavelength Astrophysics at JPL. He has broad research experience in radio and infrared astronomy and infrared geological remote sensing. Tim is also an amateur astronomer. A long time member and former President of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, he received the society's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, and is the recipient of the 2015 G. Bruce Blair Medal from the Western Amateur Astronomers. Tim has been a docent & tour guide at Mt. Wilson Observatory since 1982, has been a regular tournament chess player since 1968, and collects way too many books.

Roger Quimbly

Topic: Unusually Bright Supernovae

Bio: Robert Quimby is the Director of the Mount Laguna Observatory and an Associate Professor of Astronomy at San Diego State University. He earned his bachelors degree in Astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and then worked as a research assistant for the Supernova Cosmology Project before entering graduate school. Robert earned his masters and PhD in Astronomy from the University of Texas, Austin in 2004 and 2006, respectively. He went on to work as a postdoctoral scholar first at Caltech and then at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Japan before joining the faculty at San Diego State University. Robert's research interests include thermonuclear supernovae, core-collapse supernovae, the use of supernovae as cosmological probes, detection of supernovae in the early universe, gamma-ray bursts, and other rare transient phenomena. He has helped to discover a new class of high luminosity supernovae and is currently working to uncover their physical nature and determine their suitability as probes of the high-redshift universe. For his research contributions, Robert has received the Trumpler Award (Astronomical Society of the Pacific), the Hyer Award (American Physical Society), and, most recently, a share of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

More information Coming Soon!


Activities on Friday and Saturday are available in the Vendor/Exhibit area.

Note: Day use does not require pre-registration.  Admission to the Vendor / Exhibit area is $5.00 per adult, $2.50 for Teens (13 to 18) payable at the gate.  Children, 12 and under are free.  Admission for registered campers is included in their camping fee.  Just show your wrist band for admission to the Vendor / Exhibit area. 

You only have to pay once for admission.  Your wrist band will allow you entrance for both days of activities.


Here are just some of the prizes offered in the 5 PM Opportunity Drawing on August 15:

Celestron: Nextstar Evolution 6 Telescope

Explore Scientific: 100 Degree 20mm Nitrogen Purged Eyepiece

FOCUS Astronomy Outreach: 3” f/4 table top Dobsonian “Heritage” telescope
SkyWatcher: 8” Dobsonian collapsible telescope

Mountain High B&B: 1 night stay with use of the observatory with the purchase of 1 night

Mom's Pies: Pie

Julian Pie Company: Pie

SDAA: Private Observing Session at TDS for four (4) w/goodie basket

Palomar College Planetarium: Admission tickets (2) to a Friday Planetarium show