• Image about Mike Leigh
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Southern California is revered for its crystal clear skies in August. Which is all the more reason to pack the VW van or the Airstream and head to up-country San Diego County to the Julian StarFest (www.julianstarfest.com), Aug. 25–28.

Held on the bucolic grounds — camping is available — of the Menghini Winery (a local favorite known for its varietals), the starfest takes place during the new moon, and, when paired with the prime viewing location of the Volcan Mountain foothills, you can see just about every planet, constellation, star cluster and distant galaxy imaginable.Astronomy experts will be on hand to answer questions, and at the free Star Party on Aug. 27, they’ll provide a star tour of the heavens via numerous high-powered telescopes.

Experts include Mike Leigh, who formerly worked for Meade Instruments and runs the nearby Observer’s Inn (760-765-0088, www.observersinn.com), a B&B with an on-site music-­enhanced outdoor astronomical observatory that houses several research-grade telescopes for viewing planets and beyond. Stay here, and, according to Leigh, “you’ll leave with a whole new perspective on the universe we live in.”