On Saturday (12 November) the annual Taurid meteor shower will reach its peak in the Northern Hemisphere.
This year the Northern Taurid meteor shower runs from October 20 to December 2 and is most visible from the shower’s radiative point (the point in the sky where they appear to come from) in the direction of the constellation Taurus when it is above horizon.
At their peak, estimated to occur at approximately 1:00 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on Saturday, the Taurides will produce about five meteors per hour. However, this prediction is made taking into account completely dark skies, so actual observing conditions will likely result in fewer meteors being detected. Unfortunately, the moon will be in a waning phase tomorrow, meaning the moonlight may obscure all but the brightest Taurids.
Related: Taurid Meteor Shower 2022: When, where and how to see it
The Taurides it may not be as spectacular as other annual meteor showers such as the August meteor shower or the Geminid meteor shower in December, the latter of which can produce up to 150 meteors per hour, but it’s still capable of producing some bright fireballs .
For observers in New York, the Taurids are at their brightest around midnight when their radiant point is at its highest, according to In the sky (opens in new tab). At this time, the rotation of the Earth has turned New York to face the incoming meteors as they enter the atmosphere.
This increases the number of meteors that pass vertically down through the Earth’s atmosphere, creating small trails. During times when a location is not facing incoming meteors, they enter the atmosphere at an oblique angle and create longer duration meteors that can travel further in the sky.
The Taurida meteor shower, which occurs every year between September and November, actually consists of two separate segments, one in the Northern Hemisphere and the other visible over the Southern Hemisphere sky. This year, the South Taurides started on September 10th and peaked on October 10th and will end on November 20th.
Both of these meteor sightings come from the same source, however, a debris cloud left behind by Comet 2P/Encke (Encke).
As the nearly 3-mile-wide (4.8-kilometer) comet approaches the sun on a 3.3-year orbit, Enke sheds dust that lingers in the solar system.
As Earth passes through this debris cloud, dust from Enke enters the atmosphere at speeds of about 68,000 miles per hour (109,000 kilometers per hour).
This causes them to burn up, creating the Taurid meteor shower. The occasional larger pebble-sized piece of debris will create a bright fireball above Earth.
Sky watchers who can’t see spectacular fireballs during the Taurida meteor shower can catch two meteor showers in December. Gemini begins on December 4th and peaks on December 14th, while Ursis begins on December 12th and will peak on December 22nd.
Editor’s note: If you take a photo of the Taurida meteor shower and want to share it with Space.com readers, please send your photos, comments, and your name and location to [email protected]
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