I had the pleasure of visiting the Black Mountain park region east of San Diego proper on Saturday night. I didn’t realize what a great resource this was. Perched atop a hill and inland from most of the marine layer that plagues Coastal San Diego, the skies looked really good. It seemed to be a pretty dark sky site, maybe down to 2nd magnitude, which is a relatively dark sky site for a suburban location. There was a large parking lot, and several baseball and softball fields nearby. These provide an expanse of flat land, perfect for astronomical observing, with a nice clear shot of the southern horizon. At San Diego’s latitude, most of the best constellations are in the southern sky. I was quite pleased with the park, and even more pleased that it did not close at 8 pm. I am always looking for a place to take people for viewing, but most of the parks have gates that close at 8 pm or earlier, nullifying the ability to use them as a stargazing venue. Black Mountain park and the nearby Hilltop park seem to be a perfect suburban dark sky site for stargazing.
While there, my friend and I were graced with a shooting star. This was, undoubtedly, part of the Delta Aquariads meteor shower, which is ongoing through July 31. This isn’t the biggest, or the most famous, meteor shower, but still does provide 15-20 meteors per hour from a suburban dark sky site. From my coastal San Diego home, it took around 25 minutes to get there, and the location is very well worth the drive. I was impressed by how quiet it was, a little enclave in the midst of so much hubbub of the San Diego region. Then, to be graced with the lone shooting star, well, it made the evening and the discovery of this dark sky site treasure even better. It was the icing on the cake.by