The Taurids aren’t even peaking yet, but already there’s been an uptick in fire in the sky as astronomers anticipate a celestial outburst this month.
Every year right around now, Earth drifts through a cloud of debris left behind by Comet 2P/Encke that’s associated with the. And every seven years or so, our planet visits a particularly dense pocket of the cosmic detritus that can produce bright fireballs.
The last time we got this Taurid swarm was 2015, so we’re due for another in 2022.
These fireballs aren’t anything to worry about. They’re basically oversized shooting stars, typically pebble- to softball-size pieces of space stuff that impact our planet and burn up in a sometimes spectacular fashion as they sizzle through our upper atmosphere.
The peak of Taurid activity this year is set for Nov. 5, but a number of spectacular sizzling shooting stars have already been spotted. It’s hard to say for sure if these are actually Taurids or originating from another debris stream, but it’s an exciting start to the week either way.
There is the issue of a full moon on, which means its presence in the night sky will wash out many of the more fleeting Taurid shooting stars, but not the fireballs.
On a normal year, you’d be lucky to see one or two fireballs per night over the next few weeks. But if we do get a swarm as expected, you might be able to catch a few in a single hour, which is quite a treat.
Stellar 2021 Perseid meteor shower shines in shots from around the world
To maximize your chance of catching a Taurid fireball, get as far away from urban light pollution as possible and go outside around midnight local time, preferably on a cloudless evening. Find a spot with a wide view of the sky and try to orient yourself in such a way that the moon isn’t in your field of view or at your back. Give your eyes time to adjust and take at least an hour to just relax and watch.
Be sure to dress appropriately for the night time climate where you are and bring refreshments so you aren’t tempted to go back inside and lose your night vision.
Remember, don’t get spooked. It all burns up before it hits the ground. Well,.