The brilliant Stellarium: 100 light-years across!

Do you know the friendly gentleman who plays the didgeridoo in Balboa Park? That’s Mitchell Walker.

He loves astronomy. He’s super creative. He never stops dreaming. That’s how he managed to shrink a volume of space 100 light-years across and fit it inside a plexiglass cube!

Mitchell’s one-of-a-kind, incredible Stellarium shows all of the stars within 50 light-years of the sun, placed in their correct spatial positions. That makes 166 stars in our stellar neighborhood. (Mitchell is now playfully calling his unique cube SITH–Stars in the ‘Hood!)

The colors of his tiny illuminated stars are based on spectral classification: the Morgan-Keenan system. Press a button and you hear a recording made by Mitchell describing his Stellarium.

I first blogged about The Great Stellarium Project over three years ago. You can see a smiling Mitchell and learn more about his brilliant creation here.

Since then modifications have been made to the Stellarium, including a visible ultraviolet light.

Today I heard that more improvements are coming!

During Stars in the Park this evening, Mitchell showed me his detailed plan to have each star light up individually with a touch of a button. That way the position of a particular star can be seen in relation to others and to our sun.

Mitchell starts with a dream. Then he makes it come true.

What are your dreams?

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The planet Mars vanishes in San Diego!

The planet Mars vanished from San Diego’s night sky early this evening!

Members of the San Diego Astronomy Association had telescopes trained on the Red Planet near the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park when it disappeared!

But nobody seemed in the least distressed.

That’s because those gazing skyward understood the moon in its orbit around the Earth had begun to pass “over” much more distant Mars, in what is called a lunar occultation of Mars.

Random people walking through Balboa Park came up and were invited to peer through the telescopes. At times the instruments were aimed at the planet Jupiter, and its four largest moons that were made plainly visible: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Families and kids looked into space with a sense of wonder. Many then entered the Fleet Science Center to view the monthly planetarium show The Sky Tonight, where we saw the latest jaw-dropping images from the James Webb Space Telescope.

When the presentation ended an hour later, and we all went outside, Mars had returned!

The next image was captured by my small camera a few minutes before the lunar occultation of Mars. I set it on maximum zoom.

You can’t see the moon’s craters, but you can see fuzzy little red Mars!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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Century old photos of Casa de Estudillo.

I came upon photographs of San Diego’s historic Casa de Estudillo that are nearly a century old. I thought you might enjoy them.

These images of the Jose Antonio Estudillo House were captured in 1936 and 1937 by architectural photographer Henry F. Withey for the Historic American Buildings Survey. A product of the Heritage Documentation Program of the U.S. National Park Service, the photos are in the public domain.

It’s interesting to see that long ago streets intersected near one corner of the house: Mason Street and San Diego Avenue. Today the Casa de Estudillo museum stands in the middle of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the streets you see in these photographs have become wide walkways filled with tourists.

The Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827. Back in the 1930s tourists were visiting the large old adobe casa, just as they do today. The painted Ramona’s Marriage Place sign you see in the above photo was meant to attract those motoring by. Ramona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was an immensely popular novel.

You can read why Casa de Estudillo was called Ramona’s Marriage Place by clicking here. You can also see the present-day interior of Casa de Estudillo here and here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The faces of City Heights Square Mini Park.

City Heights Square Mini Park opened at 4061 43rd Street in 2014. It’s a beautiful urban refuge where neighbors can talk, relax, read, eat lunch, play a game of checkers or chess.

The pocket park features trees, ample sunshine and public art, including a large mural that is alive with many faces.

They are faces from the City Heights community, photographed during the span of the mini park’s creation.

The vast tile mural is a visual story best read by wandering eyes. The story presents momentary scenes in the life of the community.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Holiday magic at the Model Railroad Museum!

Need some holiday magic?

It can be found in abundance at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park!

The huge, detailed train layouts are amazing by themselves, but during the Holiday Season, additional surprises await around the museum!

There are beautiful Christmas trees, a talking, animatronic Santa to excite kids, and tiny holiday scenes placed in several of the scale train layouts.

But by far the most magic can be experienced in the Toy Train Gallery!

In the Toy Train Gallery, young and old gaze wide-eyed at a lively city filled with holiday figures and bright decorations. Trains illuminated with colored Christmas lights pass through happy winter scenes. Snowmen and Christmas trees perch on rooftops. It like a dream world one might see in a snow globe–filled with life and activity!

In addition, the Toy Train Gallery’s walls are filled with holiday artwork that will make old-timers nostalgic for years gone by.

A few photos provide a small taste…

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A positive Market Makeover in National City!

Inspired people continue to bring positive change to National City!

I saw another example of this positive change during my last South Bay walk. A beautiful mural depicting a loving mother and child now appears on one side of Cozine’s Liquor and Deli.

I discovered the mural was created by the young artists of A Reason To Survive (ARTS). The artwork is part of their Market Makeover program!

With the help of various organizations, certain liquor stores around National City now offer fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables, plus positive artwork that encourages healthy living!

Early this year I blogged about another liquor store transformation in National City. I also provided more information about this community initiative. Read more by clicking here!

And here’s another corner store in National City that was brightened by the youth of A Reason to Survive!

Look what I also discovered while walking along…

Welcome to National City is painted boldly across the parking lot from the Cozine’s Liquor and Deli mural.

Enter National City via Civic Center Drive and you’ll see it!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Tin Man recalls history in North Park!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might notice a large tin man standing atop stairs in the museum’s atrium. A sign at the bottom of the stairs explains how the nearly 11 feet tall metal sculpture was once a well known landmark in North Park.

Created in 1941, “Tin Man” was originally unpainted and held an oil can instead of a wrench. Representing the Tin Woodsman character from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man was to be a feature of the North Park Toyland Parade. But the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days before the parade cancelled the event.

Tin Man subsequently was acquired by Sabol Service at University Avenue and Bancroft Street and for several decades, now holding a wrench, he towered above the automobile repair business. In 1976 he was moved to 35th Street and University Avenue, where, painted as he appears today, he greeted the customers of Vinal’s Auto Repair on the service station island.

As you can see, I took these photographs during the holiday season. Tin Man silently stood overlooking a large, very beautiful poinsettia Christmas tree–the first such tree to decorate the San Diego History Center.

And so our city’s history continues right along, the past meeting the present.

Perhaps you’re old enough to remember seeing Tin Man in North Park. After moving through the San Diego History Center, you will carry both old and new memories into your future.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Santa sings and spreads joy in Balboa Park!

Santa Claus made the journey from the North Pole to San Diego today. He arrived at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion at noon and immediately commenced spreading joy.

He greeted young and old in front of Balboa Park’s traditional holiday Gingerbread House, then at two o’clock took to the pavilion stage. Accompanied by smiling San Diego Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramírez on the majestic Spreckels Organ, Santa sang the opening verse and chorus of Up on the Housetop.

Up on the Housetop, written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864, was the very first Christmas song that mentions Santa Claus!

Santa’s heartwarming performance was followed by a jolly Ho, Ho, Ho.

He then wished everyone in the audience a Merry Christmas.

Thank you, Santa, for being who you are.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Making spheres and cabochons in Balboa Park!

If you ever visit Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park, make sure to step into the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society building. Inside you’ll discover walls lined with displays. Arranged in glass cases are crystals, fossils, jade carvings, handmade jewelry and a whole lot more.

You might not view, however, what goes on behind the scenes.

During this weekend’s December Nights event, the public was invited into several rooms where students were transforming minerals and gems into works of art!

I confess that as a boy I had a rock tumbler. Promising stones found on the beach would be rounded and polished in the simple tumbler until they seemed like bright bits of treasure. I also had an uncle who enjoyed lapidary as a hobby–he gave me a tiny fire opal cabochon as a present one year.

Have you considered working with metals, gems and minerals? I’m sure it would be a lot of fun!

I see the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society offers many very affordable classes. You can learn faceting, metal fabrication, casting, carving…

During my behind-the-scenes look yesterday, I spoke to one friendly teacher and watched students grinding and polishing minerals using specialized machines. And I took these photographs in the “cab room” where spheres and cabochons are created!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Holiday floral beauty inside the Marston House!

For this 2022 Holiday Season, the Marston House in Balboa Park is doing something very special. The interior of the historic home has been decorated with many beautiful flower arrangements!

I learned today that the gorgeous floral displays, which can be found in most rooms, are new for the holidays this year. The flowers will dazzle Marston House visitors through the end of the year. If you’ve never been inside the Marston House, you need to go on a tour. Learn more by clicking here.

I once went on an informative tour and blogged about it here.

Today I learned that George W. Marston‘s wife, Anna, was active with the San Diego Floral Association, and the beautiful displays in the sitting room, brimming with lighter colors, were inspired by her love of flowers. (See above photo.)

I also learned George Marston considered yellow and gold the colors of California. The arrangements in the Marston library (the following two photos) reflect this.

The interior of the old house isn’t brightly lit, which poses a problem with my camera. I’ve adjusted the images to bring out the beauty as best I can.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!