DR. SKY BLOG

Important meteor showers return to Arizona skies in November

Nov 7, 2018, 2:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

As Arizona weather becomes the envy of the nation, we get to experience two important meteor showers in November.

The moon will move on to its new phase Nov. 7, and with clear and dark skies you want to be on the lookout for the first of the meteoric dust and debris from the comets that bring us these celestial showers.

Every November, Earth passes into the orbital plane of Encke, a comet with the shortest orbital period. The comet orbits the Sun once every 3.3 years.

The meteor shower that is associated with Encke is known as the Southern Taurids.

There is also a Northern Taurid meteor shower, which may originate from a dead comet.

The meteors, slow fireballs, originate from a region in the constellation of Taurus the Bull, not far from the Pleiades star cluster.

The peak period of these two streams occurs during the period of Nov. 5-12.

Your observing task is to get outside and look to the NE sky, beginning around 9 p.m.

Taurid meteors can be some of the brightest and slowest meteors you may ever get to see. Patience is the key, with some luck added to the mix, too.

A great year for Taurid fireballs was back in 2015, so we may still get to see a few very bright meteors.

If you miss this one, there is still another opportunity to view one of the best known of all meteor showers: the Leonids.

The Leonid meteor shower is one of the oldest of all showers, having first been detected as early as 902 AD.

Streaming out of the head of the constellation Leo the Lion, this is one of the most famous of all showers.

The debris seen from this shower is from Temple-Tuttle, a small active comet which orbits the Sun once every 33 years.

The best time to view the Leonids will occur on the night of Nov. 17 into the morning hours of following day. Look to the eastern sky just after 2 a.m., as Leo will rise and the bright gibbous moon will slowly be setting in the west.

Leonid meteors are very fast, just the opposite of the Taurid fireballs.

Here is an amazing fact regarding the Leonids. Back on the morning of Nov. 17, 1966, observers in southern Arizona witnessed an amazing Leonid “storm” with rates
reaching nearly 200,000 meteors per hour.

Looking to the skies on the morning of Nov. 18 before dawn may be just what you have been waiting for, but the rates are thought to be only 15 meteors per hour.

Here are the links to these great meteor showers: Taurids and Leonids.

Listen to Dr. Sky on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

To print your very own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Dr. Sky Blog

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Important meteor showers return to Arizona skies in November