Reach for the stars at Observer’s Inn in Julian, Calif.

By Kinsee Morlan, originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 2/10/2009

Mike Leigh does what he loves. His perfectly trimmed mustache and impeccable clothes are the only remnants of his former life as a reserve police officer and businessman. For the last 14 years, Leigh’s been able to turn his longtime astronomy hobby into a profession.

With the help of his wife, Caroline, Leigh runs Observer’s Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in Julian that offers a one-hour guided tour of the night sky along with warm beds and buttered toast.

“When I take people down to the observatory,” Leigh says, crunching along a gravel path toward what looks like a large gray shed with a retractable roof, “to begin with, I use a green laser, which looks like a Star Wars light saber, and I point out the brighter stars and constellations and I try to give a little bit of trivia so people can remember it. And then, after about 10 minutes of showing them the night sky, I take them inside the observatory, give them a quick talk on the different types of telescopes and how they work, and then we start looking through the telescopes. We treat it a little like sipping wine—we go slow, we talk about who discovered the objects, what they are, the dynamics behind the objects, how far away the are, and give them a little personality so that people find it interesting.”

To describe astronomy as “interesting” is understating how Leigh feels about the night sky.

“At 8 years old,” he says as he grabs a two-by-four piece of wood and manually pushes back the roof, “I became infatuated with astronomy by finding Saturn on my own and thinking, Wow, why isn’t everyone fascinated with this? Because if you’ve ever seen Saturn live in a telescope, it’s just awe-inspiring—it looks three-dimensional and it’s just a fantastic site.”

After Leigh shows off his three gargantuan telescopes, he steps outside and looks up into the clear afternoon sky.

“You should see it on a starry night,” he says, a twinkle in his eye. “It’s horizon-to-horizon, just a spectacular sky, so many stars.”

0 Responses to “Reach for the stars at Observer’s Inn in Julian, Calif.”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Kinsee’s Tweets


Kinsee's Photos

Find me on Facebook

My hubby Jeff Hammett

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other followers

%d bloggers like this: