DR. SKY BLOG

Taurid meteor shower could bring in colorful fireball season in coming days

Nov 2, 2022, 2:00 PM
(NASA Image)...
(NASA Image)
(NASA Image)

With Halloween behind us and the prospect of a new set of November events to look forward to in our skies, we present fireball season 2022!

With many meteor showers during a calendar year we might have overlooked the subject of fireballs.

As you may know, meteor showers are the left over dust particles in the orbits of comets.

The Earth intercepts these fine particles, some which may be the size of gravel and as small as beach sand. These are the main components of these annual meteor showers.

The larger particles can be upwards of and inch or two in diameter and can create the bright meteor which we call a fireball.

Here is an example of such a larger fireball type.

Let’s first define these types of meteors in more detail.

Fireballs are meteors which are as bright as or brighter than the planet Venus, the brightest object in the night sky, other than the sun and moon. A fireball is listed at minus 4 on the magnitude scale. These can be quite rare.

Another type of meteor in the sky, is the bolide. A bolide is a bright fireball which explodes in the sky at the end of its path across the sky.

These can be quite amazing to see.

Here are some additional details on the fireball/bolide connection.

Now that we understand that connection, we look to the November skies for fireball season.

This is due to a few meteor showers which overlap in the month of November and can produce a higher number of these bright celestial visitors.

The southern and northern meteor streams are active this month. Look to the skies during the first week of November for possible fireball activity just after sunset. The origin point in the sky is the constellation of Taurus the Bull.

The northern Taurids should peak around Nov. 12, while the southern Taurids peak around Nov. 4.

Here is a sky map to help you identify the location of these meteors.

To get a more detailed sky map of the November skies, download your very own sky map.

The southern Taurids are thought to come from Comet 2P/Encke, while the northern Taurids may come from debris from an asteroid known as 2004 TG10. This may, in fact, be a part of Comet Encke.

The best suggestion to view these amazing sights is to have a clear sky and a dark location, as far from city lights as possible.

A pair of binoculars will help to enjoy the show when a bright fireball streaks above your sky.

November will be a very good month for the betting sky watcher who wants to see a fireball or two.

Patience is a virtue, even when looking for fireballs!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

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

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

Podcasts are available here.

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Taurid meteor shower could bring in colorful fireball season in coming days