On Saturday, November 12, the annual Taurid meteor shower will peak in the Northern Hemisphere.
This year’s North Taurid meteor shower lasts from October 20 to December 2 and is most visible from the radiant point of the shower (the place in the sky where they appear to be coming from) towards the constellation of Taurus when it is above the horizon.
At its peak, estimated around 1:00 p.m. EST (6:00 p.m. GMT) on Saturday, the Taurids will produce about five meteors per hour. However, this prediction is made assuming perfectly dark skies, so real-world viewing conditions will likely result in fewer meteors being spotted. Unfortunately, the moon will be in a waning gibbous phase tomorrow, which means moonlight could obscure all but the brightest Taurids.
Related: Taurid meteor shower 2022: when, where and how to see it
The Taurids may not be as flashy as other annual meteor showers like August’s Perseid meteor shower or December’s Geminid meteor shower, the latter of which can produce up to 150 meteors per hour, but it’s still capable of produce glowing fireballs.
For observers in New York, the Taurids are at their peak around midnight when their radiant point is at its highest, according to In the sky (opens in a new tab). Right now, the Earth’s rotation has transformed New York City to deal with incoming meteors as they enter the atmosphere.
This increases the number of meteors passing vertically through Earth’s atmosphere, creating short contrails. Sometimes when a location doesn’t face incoming meteors, they enter the atmosphere at an oblique angle and create longer lasting meteors that can reach further into the sky.
The Taurid meteor shower, which occurs every year between September and November, is actually made up of two separate segments, one in the Northern Hemisphere and the other visible above the Southern Hemisphere sky. This year, the Southern Taurids started on September 10 and peaked on October 10 and will end on November 20.
Both of these meteor displays come from the same source, however, a cloud of debris left behind by comet Comet 2P/Encke (Encke).
As the nearly 3-mile-wide (4.8-kilometer) comet approaches the sun in its 3.3-year orbit, Encke releases dust that lingers in the solar system.
As Earth passes through this cloud of debris, Encke dust enters the atmosphere at speeds of about 68,000 miles per hour (109,000 kilometers per hour).
This causes them to burn, creating the Taurid Meteor Shower. The occasional larger pebble-sized piece of debris will create a glowing fireball above the Earth.
Skywatchers who don’t see spectacular fireballs during the Taurid meteor shower may catch two meteor showers in December. The Geminids begin on December 4 and peak on December 14, while the Ursids begin on December 12 and will peak on December 22.
Editor’s note: If you take a photo of the Taurid meteor shower and would like to share it with Space.com readers, send your photo(s), comments, and name and location to [email protected]
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