Ian Pike noon, Dec. 8
October's Beach Sand, Low Tides, Full Moon, and Venus
As the beach-going season winds down, San Diego County's coastline is padded by what is likely the deepest and widest accumulations of sand we'll see this year. Many stretches of the coastline are vulnerable to powerful waves associated with winter storms. This wave action can pull sand off the beaches and deposit it offshore, leaving behind (especially in North County) nothing but cobble beds. During the spring and summer gentle wave action usually returns much of the sand, usually in time for the arrival of the summer tourists.
October's lowest tides, coinciding with afternoon hours several days in a row, usher in several months of excellent tidepooling opportunities to come. A -0.7 foot tide occurs at 4:17 p.m. on the 15th; a -0.8 foot tide occurs at 5:06 p.m. on the 16th; and a -0.6 foot tide occurs at 6:00 p.m. on the 17th. The region's best-known places to view intertidal life include Cabrillo National Monument, and areas up the coast from La Jolla.
The full moon rises impressively from the east horizon at around 6:10 p.m., very near the time of sunset, on Tuesday, October 14. It's a perfect time to take a twilight walk and enjoy some of the last "Indian summer" weather we'll have during 2008. Some folk names for the October full moon include "blood moon," "shedding moon," "falling leaf moon," and "moon of the changing season."
While planet Venus continues to gleam brightly in the low southwestern sky at dusk early this month, the somewhat dimmer planet Jupiter assumes a more dominant position higher in the southern sky. Turn a small telescope (or even tripod-mounted, high-power binoculars) on Jupiter and you'll spot up to four of its "Galilean satellites" flanking the planet along a more-or-less straight line.