The Status of Women in Astronomy: Julian Starfest 2023 Edition
AUGUST, 2023

Unveiling the Universe: My Journey at the Julian Star Fest

Exploring Julian Star Fest: A Professional Astronomer’s Perspective

Attending the Julian Star Fest has been a recurring delight for me, having visited this celestial celebration four or five times. As a devoted professional astronomer, my involvement extends beyond research, providing Night Sky Tours in private and corporate events, pre-purchase telescope consultations, and telescope repair, instruction and setup. In fact, I own an impressive collection of six telescopes, including a substantial 28-inch Dobsonian.

A Passion for Guiding: Teaching the Night Sky

I’m very passionate about outreach, and guiding others in their pursuit of the night sky. I’ve dedicated time to help enthusiasts assemble their telescopes and master their usage. My consultations aid them in making informed decisions when purchasing a telescope, ensuring they find the perfect fit for their needs.

Embracing Innovation: My Latest Addition – Skywatcher 300P, 12 inch Collapsible Flex Tube Dobsonian

Recently, I acquired the remarkable Sky-Watcher 300P, a 12-inch collapsible Dobsonian telescope. Weighing in at around 53 pounds, it’s an impressive instrument. While its weight posed a challenge, a kind fellow astronomer offered assistance during the Julian Star Fest, showcasing the spirit of camaraderie amongst enthusiasts.

A Case of Over-enthusiastic Advice: Navigating Misunderstandings

In the decades I have indulged my passion, I have paid particular attention to women in astronomy. I have attended Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy sessions at American Astronomical Society meetings. While progress has been made (I count Virginia Trimble as a mentor, and she told me horror stories of her days at CalTech, and then there’s the whole Geoffrey Marcy situation), there is definitely room for improvement. While setting up my Sky-Watcher telescope, a frustrating encounter reminding me of the status of women in astronomy occurred. Despite clarifying multiple times that I am a professional, non-research, astronomer, a persistent gentleman still felt compelled to offer advice on telescope alignment. He went so far as to tell me how to conduct a two-star alignment. It is very frustrating to realize that, in 2023, over 100 years since Henrietta Levitt made her invaluable contributions to astronomy, women in astronomy are still regarded as an anomaly, and believed to only be attending in support of a husband or significant other.

Celebrating Diversity: The Status of Women in Astronomy

Standing out as a lone member of women in astronomer amidst couples and groups, I embraced the uniqueness of my journey. Challenging stereotypes, I ventured to the Julian Starfest by myself, guided only by my passion for the cosmos. Despite the occasional “mansplaining,” my commitment remains undeterred, reinforcing the importance of representation in the field.

Beyond Words: Sharing the Cosmic Wonder

Despite the humorous challenges and occasional misunderstandings, the Julian Starfest remains a space of inspiration and shared awe. As an astronomer by profession and heart, my mission is to continue fostering curiosity, facilitating learning, and encouraging stargazers to explore the universe with wonder and delight.

Embracing the Night’s Symphony: A Dance with the Stars

Oh, how the night sky beckons, a celestial symphony playing out in shimmering constellations. The Julian Starfest is more than an event; it’s a heartwarming reunion with the cosmos. Each visit feels like a homecoming, a chance to lose oneself in the tapestry of stars that have witnessed eons of human history.

Whispers of Stardust: My Telescopic Odyssey

Every telescope I own is a chapter in my personal odyssey across the universe. From my beloved 28-inch Dobsonian, a behemoth named SkyClops (TM) that opens windows to distant galaxies, to the recent addition of the Skywatcher 300P FlexTube 12 inch Collapsible Dobsonian, each instrument carries a piece of my heart. They transform into bridges, connecting me to realms beyond our blue planet.

A Perseid Meteor against the skies of Mt. Laguna, CA August 12, 2023

The Cosmic Camaraderie: Stars and Strangers Unite

Amongst the twinkling stars, a different kind of constellation emerges—the camaraderie of fellow astronomers. At the Julian Starfest, faces may be unfamiliar, but the passion we share is a universal language. Strangers become friends as they swap stories under the canopy of stars, united by a common love for the mysteries above.

Beneath the Same Canvas: Breaking Gender Boundaries

In a world where the night sky knows no limits, neither should the pursuit of one’s passions. As a lone woman amidst a sea of male counterparts, my journey becomes a testament to breaking gender barriers. Staking my claim under the vast cosmic canvas, I show that the universe belongs to all, regardless of gender or background.

Through laughter, lessons, and limitless horizons, I am reminded that in the grand cosmic tapestry, we are all stardust.

When the Cosmos Chuckles: An Astronomer’s Anecdotes

Ah, the humorous quirks of being an astronomer—endearing encounters that make the nights even more unforgettable. Who could forget the friendly soul offering telescope alignment tips despite my professional prowess? Such tales, while exasperating at times, paint the portrait of a vibrant community of stargazers.

Sagittarius taken with handheld Samsung Galaxy S21 phone
Scorpius taken with handheld Samsung Galaxy S21 phone
Crowds starting to gather as the sun sets at Menghini Winery in Julian, CA for the 2023 Julian Starfest
Trees against the setting sun at Menghini Winery for the 2023 Julian Starfest
Sandy Eulitt doing her best Price is Right hostess imitation with her SkyWatcher 300P 12 inch Flextube Collapsible Dobsonian telescope

Sandy Eulitt posing with her Sky-Watcher 300P FlexTube Dobsonian Telescope

Photograph by Lorem Ipsum via Unsplash

A Celestial Bond: Writing My Chapter in the Stars

With each visit to the Julian Star Fest, my narrative intertwines with the cosmic chronicle. Among the stardust and meteor showers, my journey takes on new shades. It’s not just about telescopes and constellations; it’s about embracing the vastness of the unknown and weaving my story into the fabric of the universe.

Beyond the Stars: A Heartfelt Cosmic Connection

As the Julian Star Fest continues to evolve, so does my connection to the universe. The nights of stargazing aren’t just about distant galaxies; they’re a journey inward, a voyage to the depths of my own curiosity and wonder.

Little Green Men Alien life like water bottle with straw
Little Green Man Alien Water Bottle
Blue Space Space Suit Astronaut Water Bottle
Space Suit Astronaut Water Bottle
Starry Nights Galaxy Stars Constellations Travel Mug
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