First, what the heck is a quasar?

Artist’s rendering of a quasar
  • Artist’s rendering of a quasar

Post Title: Questions about quasars? Quick — to the observatory! | Post Date: April 20, 2015

This April I participated in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, writing about different San Diego hotspots and activities for each letter of the alphabet.

Q is probably the trickiest letter of the alphabet to pin down when it comes to San Diego stuff, so when I polled my husband for some ideas, I was surprised when he immediately replied, “Quasars!”

“Wait,” I said, “what do quasars have to do with San Diego?”

“What about that observatory we visited with your parents?” he asked.

Thus, my Q post is about Palomar Observatory — which is, indeed, a place in San Diego that studies quasars.

First, what the heck is a quasar?

Wikipedia informs me that quasars are quasi-stellar radio sources, “the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN).” They’re extremely bright and at first were mistaken for stars. We now know that they’re actually at the center of massive galaxies, surrounding enormous black holes, and the insane amount of light they emit is due to lots and lots of stuff falling into the black hole.

Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain

The Palomar Observatory boasted the world’s largest telescope from 1949 until 1992, when the Keck I telescope in Hawaii displaced it. The first astronomer to use the telescope was Edwin Powell Hubble, the man for whom the Hubble Telescope is named.

The Hale Telescope at the observatory has discovered quasars at the edge of the universe. The telescope has also studied intergalactic clouds, which has led to a better understanding of the way elements are formed.

In short, the Palomar Observatory is a hive of scientific discovery on the West Coast, and its white dome is considered to be the Cathedral of Astronomy. Remember when Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet? You can thank Palomar’s 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope for that one. Astronomer Mike Brown discovered a dwarf planet known as Eris using the telescope, which then triggered the change in Pluto’s status. (You can buy his book on the subject, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, in the gift shop.)

If you visit between April and October, you can jump in on a guided tour. Tours are at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Palomar Observatory is located at 35899 Canfield Road in the Cleveland National Forest.

Post Title: Turn up the tropics: San Diego Tiki rooms | Post Date: April 23, 2015

If you’re think­ing T is for Tor­rey Pines… surprise! T is for tiki rooms.

If you’ve never been to a tiki room (or lounge, or bar), you’ve been miss­ing out. My first tiki ex­pe­ri­ence was as a kid, when my par­ents, sis­ter, and I would fre­quently go for din­ner at a place named Tong’s Tiki Hut in Villa Park, Illi­nois. The restau­rant is lo­cated in a strip mall and looks pretty non­de­script from the out­side, but once you open the door and step in­side, you’re trans­ported to a mag­i­cal world some­where in the South Seas, cov­ered in fish­nets full of faux pearls and lob­sters, and — of course — tiki heads.

As a kid, I was hooked by the un­usual de­cor, in­clud­ing a minia­ture waterfall/wishing well in the front, com­plete with koi fish. The American-style Chi­nese food was pretty much the same as every­where else, but go­ing to the restau­rant was a mini ad­ven­ture in my sub­ur­ban upbringing.

Bali Hai

2230 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island

As an adult, there’s even more to love about tiki bars: fruity cock­tails in un­usual glasses — some of which you get to keep — all topped with col­or­ful minia­ture parasols.

The Cat Eye Club

370 Seventh Avenue, Downtown San Diego

Rare Form Delicatessen

793 J Street, East Village

Here in San Diego, Bali Hai is the more tra­di­tion­ally dec­o­rated lounge, while Cat Eye Club of­fers more of the tra­di­tional drinks beloved in the 1950s and ’60s. And upon closer in­spec­tion, there is at least one more sneaky tiki bar here: Fairweather is a bar lo­cated on the sec­ond floor of Rare Form Deli, serv­ing tiki cock­tails with a view of Petco Park.

[Posts edited for length]

Blog: Laura Roberts Books | Author: Laura Roberts | From: Alpine | Blogging since: February 2015

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Gee, and I always thought a Quasar was just an old TV brand! ;-)


by dwbat

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