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Black Oaks, Floss Silks, and Orionid

The tawny hues of the black oak tree, the floss silk tree, and the Orionid meteor show

The tawny hues of the black oak tree are just beginning to highlight the slopes of San Diego County's higher mountains. Named for the dark coloring of its bark, especially when wet, the black oak (Quercus kelloggii) is the only deciduous oak native to the county. Associating with pines, firs, cedars, various evergreen oaks, and occasionally chaparral, the black oak lends a true autumn coloring to popular areas such as the Cuyamaca, Laguna, and Palomar mountains.

The floss silk tree, a conspicuous "autumn bloomer" here and there around San Diego has been showing off its pinkish or purplish, hibiscus-like flowers for a few weeks now. The broad, heavy trunks of this South American import, studded with fat, cone-shaped spines, makes it easy to identify.

The Orionid meteor shower, typically one of the year's five best annual showers, peaks on the evening/morning of October 20-21 this year. The last quarter moon, rising near midnight, will interfere somewhat with this year's Orionid display. For best results, look out at the entire sky (preferably facing straight up) during the hour or two before dawn, roughly 4 to 6 a.m. Despite the moon's glare, you might see 10 to 15 meteors per hour, assuming you are far away from the glow of city lights. The Orionids "radiate" from the constellation of Orion, and many leave long-lasting, glowing trails. Comet Halley is believed responsible for this shower. Every year at this time, the earth plows through a stream of icy particles presumably shed by that comet in the past.

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The tawny hues of the black oak tree are just beginning to highlight the slopes of San Diego County's higher mountains. Named for the dark coloring of its bark, especially when wet, the black oak (Quercus kelloggii) is the only deciduous oak native to the county. Associating with pines, firs, cedars, various evergreen oaks, and occasionally chaparral, the black oak lends a true autumn coloring to popular areas such as the Cuyamaca, Laguna, and Palomar mountains.

The floss silk tree, a conspicuous "autumn bloomer" here and there around San Diego has been showing off its pinkish or purplish, hibiscus-like flowers for a few weeks now. The broad, heavy trunks of this South American import, studded with fat, cone-shaped spines, makes it easy to identify.

The Orionid meteor shower, typically one of the year's five best annual showers, peaks on the evening/morning of October 20-21 this year. The last quarter moon, rising near midnight, will interfere somewhat with this year's Orionid display. For best results, look out at the entire sky (preferably facing straight up) during the hour or two before dawn, roughly 4 to 6 a.m. Despite the moon's glare, you might see 10 to 15 meteors per hour, assuming you are far away from the glow of city lights. The Orionids "radiate" from the constellation of Orion, and many leave long-lasting, glowing trails. Comet Halley is believed responsible for this shower. Every year at this time, the earth plows through a stream of icy particles presumably shed by that comet in the past.

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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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