Taurids meteor shower: The Halloween fireballs

Fall is a wonderful time for meteor showers! There are several ongoing now through the end of the year.

Michele Powers

Oct 31, 2022, 2:59 AM

Updated 629 days ago

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Fall is a wonderful time for meteor showers! There are several ongoing now through the end of the year. In fact, some of these showers overlap. If you happen to see any bright fireballs over the next few weeks, it could be from the Taurids. Sometimes they are known as “Halloween fireballs.”
This meteor shower comes in two waves, the Northern and Southern Taurids. The debris field from the parent comet, Comet Encke, is really spread out and is quite large. The Southern Taurids peak around Nov. 4-5. They may not be the most active in terms of the total number of meteors, but can be quite beautiful because of their larger size and slower motion. The Northern Taurids peak on Nov. 12-13 and are known for their fireballs.  They also have a seven-year periodicity to them and this year hits. The only issue could be the moon, which may get in the way for some viewing.  The moon becomes full again on Nov. 8.
These meteors are larger and also survive the trip longer through the Earth’s atmosphere. They travel roughly 17 miles per second, while the faster Perseids travel 37 miles per second. The best time to start looking for them is now at the end of the month and into early November, when both showers overlap.  
To best view them, try to go out late. The radiant point is the constellation Taurus, which will be high in the southern sky after midnight. Look southeast to start and try to find Orion. That constellation is usually easiest to find, even in our skies. Taurus is the bull and is northeast of Orion.  The bright star that makes the bull’s eye is Aldebaran. You don’t have to stare directly at Taurus, but just look up - you’ll never know where you’ll see one. Dress warmly too, bring blankets and chairs in order to stay comfortable. Give yourself about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust and just have fun!


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