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Julian StarFest 2015

August 13th - 15th, 2015  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 2014 activities. This page will be updated to 2015 as information becomes available.

Download Program

Kids activities:

“Save Our Stars” presentation for kids Friday at 7:30 PM at the International Dark Sky Association table.

Kids activities and crafts at 10:00 AM and 2:30 PM on Saturday. You can make a star gazer, create your own constellations, or go on an astronomical scavenger hunt! 

Photographing the August Night Sky - A Workshop by Dennis Mammana
If you've always wanted to capture the magnificent Milky Way and the starts 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 22, 2014
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 six 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 at

Guest Speakers

Here is our preliminary speaker list and schedule:

John Garrett – Friday, 7:00 PM

Topic: The Astro Time Machine. The presentation examines a few historical records and archeological artififacts whose existence, use, or construction can be elucidated by the application of modern astronomical knowledge.

Bio: John Garrett is an illustrator and science enthusiast who enjoys illustrating what he learns about astronomy. Previous talks at The Julian Starfest covered exoplanets, earth’s orbit and climate, atmospheric optical effects, and the NICE model of the solar system. John is a member of the Temecula Valley Astronomers and a frequent contributor to the What’s Up program of the Orange County Astronomers.

Steve Flanders  - Friday, 8:30 PM

Topic:  History of the Palomar Observatory. We will discuss George Ellery Hale's early work as a solar astronomer, a founder of Caltech, and a builder of large telescopes.  We will talk about the selection of the site on Palomar Mountain and the building of the dome beginning in the mid-1930s.  That story will continue with a descriptions of the construction of the mounting and casting and figuring of the mirror.  This presentation concludes with first-light in 1949 at which point Kin's story of the science at Palomar Observatory begins.  

Speaker:  Steve Flanders has an MBA from Cornell University and worked for 30 years as a manager and consultant in corporate information systems.  In 2008, he completed a masters degree in the history of science at Harvard, moved to California, and began volunteering in the docent program at Palomar Observatory.  Now a CalTech employee, he is serving as public affairs coordinator at the Observatory.

Justin Rennilson - Saturday, 11:00 AM and 6:30 PM

Title: 50th Anniversary of Ranger VII: the first spacecraft to obtain high resolution of the lunar surface. On 31 July 1964 Ranger impacted the moon just south of the crater Copernicus using 6 cameras to capture objects as small as 18 inches before crashing. JPL,  the University of Arizona, and USGS were involved in this historic event. Selections of films made by JPL and Jason Davis of the Planetary Society will be shown as well as images from Surveyor the first soft Lander on the moon which in 2016 will celebrate the 50th as well.  

Speaker: Justin J. Rennilson, nickname "Jay". Born December 10, 1926, Education UC Berkeley, UCLA  Astronomy, Technical Univ. Berlin, Optical Physics. Joined JPL April 1961, Assistant Cognizant Scientist, Ranger Program, NASA co-investigator Television Experiment, Surveyor Program, NASA co-investigator Apollo Lunar Geology Exploration Team, Senior Research Fellow, CalTech 1969-1974.  Also taught Observational Astronomy SDSU 1957-1961.

Candice Kohl - Saturday, 12:30 PM

Topic: Rocks from Space: Interplanetary Messengers   Meteorites and impact events have played a crucial role in forming the earth and solar system as we know it.  With the exception of some lunar rocks and soil, and a few other bits of material (mostly grains or atoms) they are the only samples we actually have in hand to study the other bodies of our planetary system.   All the other information we have is from some form of remote sensing.  

Meteorites are the oldest solid material we have from the formation of the solar system and tell the story of those early days in ways that no terrestrial rock can. Some of the mineral grains in these samples predate the ignition of our sun as a star.  Meteorite impacts on earth have had a huge effect on its geologic and biologic history. Was the moon formed by a giant impact early in the solar system history?  Was the water we have on earth brought in by meteorites? How about the earliest organic molecules that could have led to life? Were the dinosaurs killed off by an impact?  Most meteorites are from the asteroid belt and tell us about conditions in this region of space but a few special ones are from the moon and from Mars. Since we haven’t brought back any Martian samples yet, these rocks can provide a critical "ground truth" for the other observations of the planet. Meteorites fall evenly around the world.  The process of hunting for them, studying them and investigating the impact craters they produce is an exciting international endeavor.  

This talk will give a general overview of these studies and there will be lots of meteorites on display for close inspection.  So don’t miss this chance to hold pieces of the asteroid belt, the moon and Mars. 

Speaker: Candace Kohl received a BA in chemistry from Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota in 1969 and a PhD in cosmochemistry from UCSD in 1975. Her experimental work centered on measurements of cosmic ray produced radioactivity in lunar material and meteorites to investigate the constancy of the solar cosmic rays, the rates and extents of various processes on the lunar surface, and the exposure histories of meteorites.  Her work lead directly to the extension of these techniques to date terrestrial landforms including obtaining the age of formation of Meteor Crater in Arizona.  This technique has proved to be an important tool for the study of geomorphology and investigations of climate change. She has performed fieldwork on many of the impact structures in Australia, spent a field season hunting for meteorites on the Antarctic ice and a field season on top of the Greenland ice cap helping to obtain a 10,000-foot long ice core.  

Candace is on the Board of Trustees of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona and has served on a number of committees for the Meteoritical Society.  She is active in science outreach and is on the board of several fund raising organizations for science scholarships. She has been honored by the designation of Minor Planet 4899 Candace. She volunteers with international science efforts and organizations promoting women in science.

Tom Polakis - Saturday, 2:00 PM

Topic: Viewing With a 4.3-meter Scope, Planetary Images, and a Lunar Eclipse. With three others, I had the opportunity to visually observe through the Discovery Channel Telescope near Flagstaff.  I'll describe the scope and what objects look like with all that aperture. At home in Tempe, I take images of the sun, moon, and planets with a digital video camera and various telescopes, and will share some of the better images.  Finally, I will show images of the lunar eclipse of this past April, which was my favorite of many.

Speaker: Tom Polakis has been an amateur astronomer for more than one revolution of Saturn.  His main interests are deep-sky observing, camera-and-tripod sky photography, and astronomical travel.  He writes for Astronomy magazine, where he is a Contributing Editor.

Alex McConahay - Saturday, 3:30 PM

Title: Which Way is Up?   A very short discourse on motion and direction in the Universe.  

Speaker: Alex McConahay, a former high school teacher, has been an amateur astronomer for nearly twenty years. He has earned the Astronomical League's awards for the Messier Objects, Binocular Messier Objects, Outreach, and Herschel 400. He has been president of the Riverside Astronomical Society, and member of the Board of RTMC and PATS. He is also an avid imager from both his home observatory, and from the RAS site at GMARS. He is the leader of their AstroImaging Special Interest Group. You can see his website at   

Justin Rennilson - Saturday 6:30 PM (See 11 AM above).

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.