Beautiful San Diego Mountain Lilac (ceanothus cyaneus), on the right (east) fork of the Rattlesnake Canyon trail, in Poway. March 24, 2018
Ceanothus, or wild lilac, a white or blue-blossoming native plant, is set to bloom by late January or early February. Ceanothus is common wherever native sage-scrub and chaparral vegetation grows, from the bluffs of Torrey Pines, to the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert. Often much of the ceanothus cover is burnt off in San Diego's foothills — but the plant is resilient against periodic wildfires and will eventually return
January’s Full Moon rises majestically from the darkened east horizon on Thursday, the 28th.
Groundhog Day comes Tuesday, February 2. If the sleepy woodchuck sees his shadow, so the story goes, he'll hole up for another six weeks of winter cold. None of this means much in San Diego, where a February warm spell can easily push the thermometer into the 80s.
Orion is the brightest of the 88 constellations.
Orion is now high in the southeast right after dark, and he stands highest due south around 9 p.m. Orion is the brightest of the 88 constellations, but his main pattern is surprisingly small compared to some of his dimmer neighbors. The biggest of these is Eridanus the River to his west, enormous but hard to trace. Dimmer Fornax the Furnace, to Eridanus's lower right, is almost as big as Orion! Even the main pattern of Lepus, the Hare cowering under Orion's feet, isn't much smaller than he is.
Mercury is having an excellent apparition in evening twilight. Mercury is often called "elusive," but this week it's easy. Look for it low in the west-southwest about 40 or 50 minutes after sunset. In addition to being nearly as high as it ever gets in twilight (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes), Mercury is also brighter than usual, about magnitude –0.5 all week.
The above comes from the Outdoors listings in the Reader compiled by Jerry Schad, author of Afoot & Afield in San Diego County. Schad died in 2011. Planet information from SkyandTelescope.org.