Northern Taurian fireballs can be seen throughout November

Northern Taurian fireballs can be seen throughout November

A bright fireball is seen over Brkini, Slovenia, on Nov. 12, 2015, during a Taurid swarm. Another swarm is approaching us this month, with fireballs appearing in the sky in November. (Marko Korosec, Solent News/Shutterstock)

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ATLANTA – The Taurid “swarm” is still going strong this month, with bright meteors known as fireballs visible in the night sky around the globe.

The southern Taurids peaked last week, with fireball sightings during the first week of November, but it’s not over yet. The Taurid meteor shower consists of two streams, and according to EarthSky, the northern Taurids are predicted to peak on Saturday.

“The Taurides only peak at maybe five meteors per hour, but there’s always a chance that one of those five could be a fireball, brighter than any star or planet in the sky,” said Robert Lunsford, the coordinator of the study. fireball report for the American Meteor Society. “Only the sun and moon are brighter than normal fireballs, so they’re pretty spectacular when you see one.”

The southern Taurids run from about September 23 to November 12, while the northern Taurids are active from about October 13 to December 2. When the two showers are active at the same time, there can be an increase in fireballs, especially during a Taurid swarm year like these.

The showers reach their respective peaks at points where the Earth is closest to the center of each stream. The swarm occurs when Jupiter is close enough to pull the currents with its gravity, condensing debris and creating a spike in fireballs. The last time this happened was in 2015, and before that in 2008, creating a seven-year repeat that the meteor company predicted would happen again in 2022.

“It’s a very interesting mood that produces a lot of fireballs,” said Mike Hankey, the operations manager for the American Meteor Society and creator of the fireball tracking program. “It’s always been known for fireballs, but we can definitely see an increase in the data every day this month. There’s been a lot of fireballs already.”

Origin of the Taurides

The Taurids radiate from the direction of the constellation Taurus, although it is best not to look in that area because the meteor trails last the shortest time. Fireballs will be seen all over the sky, nor will they be disturbed by the waning of November 8’s bright full moon, as they can outshine most elements of the night sky.

The southern and northern Taurids both originate from components of Comet Encke, which at just over three years has the shortest orbit around the sun of any major comet in our solar system. Every time Encke passes Earth in its orbit, it leaves a new trail of debris, making it a major producer of meteoroids. The species is so large that it takes our planet several weeks to go through the meteor shower.

Comet Encke returns in October 2023.

See a fireball

Taurian meteors tend to move slowly, but are sometimes very bright, depending on their size. Meteors taller than 3.3 feet tend to move slowest and shine brightest, according to NASA. You can see fireballs moving across the sky for a few seconds, while most meteors are only visible for a millisecond. The fireballs are often described as colorful, red, orange or yellow.

“You won’t always see fireballs, but there are meteors every night of the year,” Lunsford said. “It’s something you can do cheaply. You don’t even need a telescope, just your eyes are perfect.”

Other space events this year

There are three more meteor showers you could see in the rest of 2022, according to EarthSky’s 2022 Meteor Shower Guide. Here are the showers and their predicted peaks:

• November 18: Leonids

• December 14: Geminids

• December 22: Ursiden

There is another full moon on The Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar for 2022: the cold moon on December 7.

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