The Northern Taurid meteor lights up once in every ten years and is a treat to watch. Around this time, another linked meteor shower, the Southern Taurids, is also visible and both these showers should be on display from the end of October and until early November.
The Northern Taurids showers usually show a low zenithal hourly rate of about 5 to 10 fireballs. The Moon is not an issue despite the fact that it produces light pollution.
The month of November is set to witness several meteors including Asteroid 2015 TB145, which can be seen during the next week. If we get lucky, the Northern Taurid meteor shower, which is usually seen once in ten years only, could give a beautiful show this week.
2015 has been a special year astronomically and the Moon was full on Tuesday October 27th, just a few days before the much celebrated Halloween holiday. The Taurid fireballs or meteor showers, however, are especially unique as they have a couple of unique attributes not seen in other showers.
This was seen on a Full Moon night and a partially cloudy sky. Exactly opposite to the fast moving Orionids few days ago, these Taurid fireballs will will take a bright and slow streak in the night sky. These move at a slow and steady speed of 28 kilometers per second.
The second and most important point is that the Taurid meteor stream collides with the Earth quite directly. Because of this, the Taurids are as strong at dawn as they are after midnight. The spectacle has actually just begun and one Taurid was spotted just last night by viewers in the light-polluted West Palm Beach in Florida.
The Northern Taurids have been nicknamed “The Halloween Fireballs” because they tend to show up around Halloween. The Northern Taurids were last seen in 2005-2008, and this year could witness a terrific shower.
This shower is linked to happenings taking place on Comet 2P Encke, which is the source of the two Taurid meteor streams. The Taurid meteor stream follows a shallow path that is parallel to the ecliptic plane. This is because it has the shortest orbital period 3.3 years of all periodic comets known, like Encke.
Astronomer Johann Encke discovered the Comet 2P Encke in 1822. Via many perihelion passages during previous centuries, it has been seen that it passes close to Earth once in every 33 years and did this last in the year 2013.
There is no fixed definition of a ‘meteor swarm’ and it is usually defined as having a zenithal hourly rate over 1000. During the next few weeks the meteor showers will be active and the Taurid fireballs have the capacity to give spectacularly lit showers. Make sure you keep an eye out for them on social media if you don’t get a chance to see them in person.