Announcing the first-ever Stars over Wine Country event, to be held on the evening of Saturday, October 29 in the region of Paso Robles, California.
I will lead a "guided tour" of some of the constellations visible in our night sky, using a laser-pointer to indicate specific stars and outlines (weather permitting). You won't have to walk anywhere to go on this "tour," since it will take place in the stars overhead. Warm clothes and portable folding chairs or blankets are recommended, to enable you to look up at the sky from a comfortable position.
The next morning, those able to attend are invited to visit a sacred ancient Petroglyph site of tremendous significance, which is located about an hour's drive away (directions will be provided upon RSVP).
The plan is to meet at 6pm on Saturday night, and conclude later that evening (optional meet for dinner afterwards at a restaurant that stays open late). The sacred Petroglyph visit the next day should conclude by noon: the plan is to make it easy for those who may need time to travel.
I will have copies of my several books available for purchase for those interested, and will be happy to inscribe them for you (alternately, feel free to bring copies you already own if you'd like them signed).
If you're not able to attend this particular gathering, I will also be setting up a web-based option to purchase books directly from me if you'd like them inscribed, and that should be ready in plenty of time for those wanting books to give as gifts during any of the major solstice-related holidays from the world's various ancient sacred traditions. However, that web-based option will require you to pay shipping costs, which you won't have to pay if you purchase books in person.
There is no charge for this special event. Of course, you have to handle your own travel, lodging and food expenses. We'll ask for separate tabs at dinner to keep everything as simple and uncomplicated as possible.
The weather for star-gazing has the potential to be outstanding, but there is always the possibility of fog rolling in from the Pacific ocean, so there are no guarantees that we'll be able to see any stars or planets. If the sky is blocked out by fog or clouds, we'll just set up a projector and a screen and discuss a few constellations and myths that way, instead.
We'll do our best to see some constellations, however, and the hope is that you might identify a constellation that you might never have "positively identified" previously!
If you are interested in participating in this special Stars over Wine Country event, please RSVP at the Star Myth World website's "contact form" page which can be found here, and indicate names and how many will be in your party. Please specify "RSVP" in the subject line of that form.
The area has a number of lodging options, including hotels, bed & breakfasts, and "AirBnB" and "VRBO" locations. There are also some camping options in the area: if camping interests you, take a look at some of the sites listed here, as well as the campsites located in the Cerro Alto area of the Los Padres National Forest.
The Paso Robles area is home to some of the best grape-growing terrain and soil in the world, as well as literally hundreds of wineries. Folds and gaps in the hills create numerous microclimates and the cold air coming in from the ocean at night can create temperature swings of over fifty degrees in a single twenty-four hour period.
This online brochure lists many of the wineries and their locations and websites, if you're interested in checking out wine-tasting during your visit. Most have tasting rooms on site which are open from 10am to 5pm or 5:30pm daily (check individual sites for details), where you can sample their wines, purchase bottles to take with you, join their wine clubs, or have bottles shipped.
Below is a map showing the layout of the region, indicating wineries by name (original here). Someone (not myself) subjectively decided which wineries should be indicated as "recommended wineries" on this map:
This website contains more information, including links to lodging and other recommended attractions in the area. Here is one additional website with some further details on the specific grapes and varietals most commonly encountered in the Paso Robles AVA.
In addition to wineries, there are also some well-known breweries in the area, including Firestone-Walker and Barrelhouse.
You may also want to check out the beaches and coastline, day hike opportunities, downtown shopping and boutiques, and other area attractions while visiting the Paso Robles and surrounding region.
I realize that not everyone who may want to attend will be able to make it to this particular event. Hopefully it will be the first of many, to be held in different locations with good dark views of the night sky, during different times of year. This one will be fairly modest in scope, so unless this part of California is within driving distance for you, it may not make sense to go too far out of the way, unless you are already looking for a vacation in this particular area (or wanting to visit the sacred Petroglyph site).
Obviously, the days leading up to Halloween are a busy time for many people, but the following months will only become even more busy, and this particular weekend will have a New Moon, which often enables some of the best nights for stargazing.
This is also the wine-harvesting time in many vineyards in the northern hemisphere. In the myth-system of ancient Greece, the god of wine is of course Dionysus, who is shown in the amphora below holding a wine-vessel and standing beside a long-horned goat. We may have occasion to see the constellations which are almost certainly associated with this scene, presently crossing the center of the night sky during the "prime time" star-viewing hours after sunset and before midnight.
I hope to see you at this special Stars over Wine Country event, if you're interested in attending and able to come to Paso Robles, California at the end of October!