After this week’s equinox, the fall sky will see two overlapping but quiet meteor showers. The Draconids, a small shower, will be visible from Oct. 6 through Oct. 10, peaking on Oct. 7 just after the new moon. They will appear high in the sky after midnight and are slow moving, with a slight yellow cast. The Orionids begin Oct. 2 and peak much later in October.
How many of us were awakened last Saturday by the sound of rain? The air was washed so clear and fresh after many smoky autumn days. Even the slightest amount of moisture will generate some greenery; poppies will send out foliage from their foot-long roots and even a bloom or two. These spots of orange color are easy to pick out in the piles of fallen golden-brown buckeye and bay leaves. Other spots of orange are the few Gulf fritillary butterflies that have been hovering over the passionflower vine at the thrift store, my second sighting of the year. There are not as many this year as have delighted us in past years.
Warm autumn air has been heating local waters, helping the growth of tiny dinoflagellates, single-celled living creatures that appear to glow or illuminate the saltwater—what we call bioluminescence. See them sparkle on dark, moonless nights in the waves along Tomales Bay.