Taurid meteor shower brings fewer shooting stars, but some could be fireballs

Cropped Photo: John Flannery / CC BY-SA 2.0

Did you miss the Orionid meteor shower last month? No worries! There's another fall shower already underway

The Taurid meteor shower lasts for weeks (October 12 – December 2, 2017), but is a modest shower, peaking at about seven meteors per hour.

Meteors from this shower tend to move slowly, but can be very bright--what's called a "fireball." If you've never seen a glowing fireball plowing through the atmosphere, this is a good shower to see those bright, spectacular meteors.

The best viewing should be from midnight until dawn through December 2, with a slight peak expected on November 11 and 12, a Saturday and Sunday.

To view this shower, find a dark location with a clear view of all or most of the night sky. City lights will interfere with viewing, but since this is a bright shower, your own back yard will do in a pinch.

The Astronomy Club of Asheville likes these spots, far from local light pollution.

Wherever you watch, bring a chair or blanket, along with water (or cocoa, or coffee) and snacks. Dress for November temperatures.

For this shower, meteors should be visible all over the night sky, so if you can, lie down or lie back to see the biggest section of sky.

Let your eyes adjust to the dark, and be prepared to spend awhile waiting to see a shooting star.

The Taurid meteors are little bits of Comet Encke, which, as it orbits the Sun, leaves little bits of itself behind along the way. When the Earth's orbits swings around where Encke has been, these bits enter our atmosphere.

When they burn brightly, we call them shooting stars.

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