|Taurid Meteor Shower Fireball. Credit: NASA |
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The Taurid meteor shower, which peaks on November 12, 2015, is expected to produce an above average amount of meteors throughout mid-November this year.
Every year from September-November, the Earth passes through a broad stream of debris left by Comet 2/P Encke. The dust associated with the comet hits the Earth’s atmosphere at 65,000 mph and burns up, creating the Taurid meteor shower. During most years, the shower is weak, and only a few Taurid meteors can be seen each night. Other years, the Taurids can put on a show and produce huge fireballs.
The Taurids may be more active than usual this year, according to Bill Cooke, lead for the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office. Known as the Taurid “swarm,” these bright meteors are created when the Earth runs into a group of pebble-sized fragments from the comet that then burn up in the atmosphere. Given the behavior of past Taurid swarms, increased fireball activity may be seen during the last week of October and the first two weeks of November.
“The annual Taurid meteor shower is going on right now, and we are seeing steady activity in our meteor cameras,” said Cooke. “Individuals should not be surprised if they see a bright meteor or fireball over the next few nights.”
How to watch the Taurid Meteor Shower:
For optimal viewing, find an open sky, lie on the ground, and look straight up into the dark sky. It is important to be far away from artificial lights. Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt.
Taurid meteors can be seen any time the constellation Taurus is above the horizon during the months of September, October, and November. The best time to look for Taurids is after midnight, when Taurus is high in the sky, and when the sky is dark and clear, with no moonlight or twilight to mask the fainter meteors.
Where to look for the Taurids:
First, find Orion’s noticeable three-star belt in the night sky. Then look slightly to the west to find the Taurus constellation and the radiant of the Taurid meteor shower where the meteors appear to originate.