A bright fireball is seen over Birkeni, Slovenia, on November 12, 2015, during a Taurid swarm. This month, another swarm is upon us, with fireballs visible in the sky throughout November. (Marco Korosic, Solent News/Shutterstock)
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ATLANTA – A torpedo “swarm” is still going strong this month, with bright meteors known as fireballs appearing across the globe in the night sky.
It peaked in the South Taurids last week, with fireball sightings continuing throughout the first week of November, but it’s not over yet. The Taurid meteor shower consists of two galaxies, and the northern Taurids River is expected to reach its peak on Saturday, according to EarthSky.
said Robert Lunsford, Fireball Report Coordinator at the American Meteor Society. “Only the sun and moon are much brighter than normal fireballs, so it’s absolutely amazing when you see one.”
The Southern Taurids run from about September 23 to November 12, while the Northern Taurids are active from about October 13 to December 2. When the two dashes are active simultaneously, there can be an increase in fireballs, especially during a swarm year Taurid like this year.
Rain reaches its peak at the points where the land is closest to the center of each stream. The swarm results when Jupiter is close enough to draw currents by its own gravity, causing debris to condense and create a spike in fireballs. The last time it happened was in 2015, and before that in 2008, resulting in a seven-year recurrence that the meteorite community had predicted would happen again for 2022.
“It’s an interesting shower that produces a lot of fireballs,” said Mike Hankey, director of operations for the American Meteor Society and creator of its fireball tracking program. “It’s always been known for fireballs, but we can definitely see a little increase in data every day this month. There have been a lot of fireballs already.”
The origin of the bull
Taurus radiates from the direction of the constellation Taurus, although it is best not to consider that area because meteor tracks last for the shortest period of time. You’ll see fireballs all over the sky, and you won’t be alarmed by the bright fading of the November 8th full moon either, since they can outshine most elements of the night sky.
Both the southern and northern Taurids are derived from the components of Comet Encke, which has the shortest orbit around the sun of any major comet in our solar system in just over three years. Every time Encke passes Earth in its orbit, it leaves a fresh trail of debris, making it a great producer of meteorites. The strain is so large that it takes our planet several weeks to go through the meteor shower.
Comet Encke will return in October 2023.
see a fireball
Taurid meteors tend to move slowly but are sometimes very bright, depending on their size. Meteorites larger than 3.3 feet in diameter tend to move slower and shine brighter, according to NASA. Fireballs can be seen moving across the sky for a few seconds, while most meteors are only visible for a split second. Fireballs are often described as colored, either red, orange, or yellow.
“You won’t always see fireballs, but there are meteors every night of the year,” Lunsford said. “It’s something you can do on the cheap. You don’t even need a telescope; just your eyes are perfect.”
Other space events this year
There are three more meteor showers you can see in the remainder of 2022, according to EarthSky’s Meteor Shower Guide for 2022. Here are their forecast showers and peaks:
• November 18: Leonids
• December 14: Gemini
• December 22: Ursids
There is only one more moon in The Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar for 2022: the cold moon of December 7.
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