Montaña de Oro Perseids
Waves crashed against the cliffs on a falling tide while bats swooped through the salty air. The new moon phase was not only ideal for observing meteor showers, but also caused larger tidal variations. Comet debris periodically burned through the upper atmosphere, sometimes leaving trails for several seconds. As per usual the brightest meteors mostly fell just out of frame, reflecting green on the Pacific Ocean. Located on a wild stretch of the Central California coast, Montaña de Oro State Park has skies dark enough for stargazing, a rarity in the state. At least it did once I walked away from all the stray headlights at the parking areas. All week long the weather had been the same, with clouds coming in at sunset and lingering until late the next morning. But the night the Perseids were supposed to peak, the marine layer finally stayed away. The coastal mountains were only partially shrouded in clouds before a heavy fog bank moved in off the sea at 4AM. While meteor rates weren’t as high as past years, it was still a great show.