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Cottonwoods showing off and rainbow season arrives

We're losing a little more light each day

A rainbow breaks over Highland Valley Vineyards in Escondido.
A rainbow breaks over Highland Valley Vineyards in Escondido.

“Rainbow Season” arrives with the first rains of late fall. Scattered showers are best for rainbow watching: sunlight refracting and reflecting through the raindrops causes two bows to appear — an intense circular arc at 42˚ and a bigger but weaker arc at 51˚ from the antisolar point (the point in the sky diametrically opposed to the sun’s position). From November through mid-February, the sun never gets higher than 42˚ above the horizon as seen from San Diego, so (rain and sunlight permitting) the brighter of the two arcs may appear above the horizon at any time of day. In spring and summer, rainbows are never seen in the sky around midday because the sun is too high — and the antisolar point is too low.

Cottonwood tree

The Fremont Cottonwoods along the San Diego River in Mission Gorge are now showing their best tawny foliage. You can park at the Old Mission Dam historic site or the Mission Trails Regional Park visitors’ center and explore the riparian area by way of riverside trails or by walking, bike riding, or skating along the bike path high above the river’s south and east banks. Large cottonwoods can also be seen along other watercourses throughout the San Diego County backcountry, including along the Sweetwater River near Cottonwood Golf Course, and in Cottonwood Valley, east of Pine Valley along Interstate 8.

Does the Sun already seem to be setting about as early as it ever will? You’re right! We’re still almost a month from the winter solstice — but the Sun sets its earliest each year around December 7th, if you’re near latitude 40° north. And already the Sun sets within only about 3 minutes of that time.

A Surprising Result of This: The Sun actually sets a trace earlier on Thanksgiving than on Christmas — even though Christmas is around solstice time!

But in Celestial Mechanics, every seeming abnormality is balanced out by an equal abnormality somewhere else. This earliest-sunset offset from the solstice date is balanced out by the opposite happening at sunrise: The Sun doesn’t come up its latest until January 4th. Blame the tilt of Earth’s axis and the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit.

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.

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Documenting KGB’s FM Radio Revolution

“At the end, people got cardboard boxes on their desks”
A rainbow breaks over Highland Valley Vineyards in Escondido.
A rainbow breaks over Highland Valley Vineyards in Escondido.

“Rainbow Season” arrives with the first rains of late fall. Scattered showers are best for rainbow watching: sunlight refracting and reflecting through the raindrops causes two bows to appear — an intense circular arc at 42˚ and a bigger but weaker arc at 51˚ from the antisolar point (the point in the sky diametrically opposed to the sun’s position). From November through mid-February, the sun never gets higher than 42˚ above the horizon as seen from San Diego, so (rain and sunlight permitting) the brighter of the two arcs may appear above the horizon at any time of day. In spring and summer, rainbows are never seen in the sky around midday because the sun is too high — and the antisolar point is too low.

Cottonwood tree

The Fremont Cottonwoods along the San Diego River in Mission Gorge are now showing their best tawny foliage. You can park at the Old Mission Dam historic site or the Mission Trails Regional Park visitors’ center and explore the riparian area by way of riverside trails or by walking, bike riding, or skating along the bike path high above the river’s south and east banks. Large cottonwoods can also be seen along other watercourses throughout the San Diego County backcountry, including along the Sweetwater River near Cottonwood Golf Course, and in Cottonwood Valley, east of Pine Valley along Interstate 8.

Does the Sun already seem to be setting about as early as it ever will? You’re right! We’re still almost a month from the winter solstice — but the Sun sets its earliest each year around December 7th, if you’re near latitude 40° north. And already the Sun sets within only about 3 minutes of that time.

A Surprising Result of This: The Sun actually sets a trace earlier on Thanksgiving than on Christmas — even though Christmas is around solstice time!

But in Celestial Mechanics, every seeming abnormality is balanced out by an equal abnormality somewhere else. This earliest-sunset offset from the solstice date is balanced out by the opposite happening at sunrise: The Sun doesn’t come up its latest until January 4th. Blame the tilt of Earth’s axis and the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit.

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.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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