One of the most explosive meteor showers of the year is just past its peak but still very active, which is good news if you're into seeing fire in the sky. As the comet moves around the solar system, it leaves behind bits of material that are called meteoroids. The Northern Taurid meteor shower lasts until December 10, and after that comes the Geminids meteor shower, which peaks in mid-December. It's possible to see them earlier in the evening, if a little less likely. From the lab to your inbox. Although Earth will be traversing the densest part of the comet's debris train during mid-day in the Americas, the best viewing time will occur hours earlier, at around 1 a.m. local time, when the shower's radiant, located in central Taurus, will be high in the southern sky. But the estimated dates have some wiggle room, because meteor rates will be consistently low throughout the meteor shower. Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University. Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! Make sure to move your gaze around the nearby constellations. Enjoy a little fire in the sky and pass along any epic fireball photos you happen to catch to me, @EricCMack, on Twitter. Thank you for signing up to Space. Depending where you live, you may have seen the skies light up with fireworks over the weekend.

Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion. Don't look directly at Taurus to find meteors; the shooting stars will be visible all over the night sky. "The Taurids are rich in fireballs, so if you see a Taurid it can be very brilliant and it'll knock your eyes out, but their rates absolutely suck," Cooke told Space.com. And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: [email protected] Meteors closer to the radiant have shorter trails and are more difficult to spot. Please refresh the page and try again. The Northern Taurids likely hit maximum activity Wednesday night but remain active until early December, according to the American Meteor Society, or AMS.

At that time, Encke was approximately 2.3 million miles (3.7 million kilometers) from Messenger and 32.7 million miles (52.6 million kilometers) from the sun. The Taurids aren't as well known as other meteor showers like the Perseids or even the Leonids, which are also active in November. There's no need to focus on this part of the sky, however, as the Taurids can be visible in other parts of the night sky, but they'll generally be headed away from Taurus.

Bundle up if needed, and then just lie back, let your eyes adjust, relax and watch. Cooke said that it can be hard to pick the best day to look for the Taurids, because the meteor shower is visible for several weeks. To find Taurus, look for the constellation Orion and then peer to the northeast to find the red star Aldebaran, the star in the bull's eye. Skywatchers in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres will have two different peak viewing times. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? The friction they encounter while speeding through the Earth's atmosphere heats them up, sometimes making them visible from the ground. Fireballs are very bright meteors—brighter than Venus (which is the brightest thing in the sky after the moon)—and usually last for one or two seconds. The Taurids come from Comet Encke, a short-term periodic comet that orbits the sun about once every 3.3 years. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! Related: The Taurid meteor shower of 2020 peaks soon. The Northern Taurids likely hit maximum activity Wednesday night ... 2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year See all photos +11 More. Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. Meteor showers require no special equipment to view. In some years, when Jupiter's orbit brings the planet close to the comet's trail, the gas giant's gravity nudges the comet particle stream toward Earth, so more meteors are visible to observers here. Astrophotographer Sébastien Joly sent in a photo of a Taurid meteor captured over Lake Cerknica in Slovenia, on Nov. 10, 2015. The Taurids are visible practically anywhere on Earth, except for the South Pole. This will let you view more meteors than by staring in one direction. Small chunks of dust might be seen burning up in our upper atmosphere as "shooting stars," while larger bits of space rock can produce more dramatic fireballs. The Northern Taurid meteor shower peaks … The Taurids are produced when Earth drifts through a cloud of debris left behind by Comet 2P/Encke around this time each year. While the Taurid meteor shower doesn't have a lot of shooting stars to offer, the few that will streak across the sky may be bright, spectacular fireballs. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week. For the past few months, we’ve spent quite a bit of time outside in the evenings, taking in the…. The Southern Taurid branch has already peaked, but can continue to contribute to the overall fireball count. Visit our corporate site. Click here to browse.

© It was first spotted by Pierre Mechain in 1786 and was first recognized as a periodic comet in the 1800s by Johann Franz Encke. The view will be the best this week because Earth will be going through the densest part of the debris stream of a comet, Bill Cooke Jr., the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, told CNN. NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft captured this image of Comet 2P/Encke during the comet's closest approach to Mercury in 2013. Normal meteors, on the other hand, fade after about half a second, Robert Lunsford, the American Meteor Society’s resident fireball report coordinator, told CNN. Best telescopes 2020: Top picks for beginners, viewing planets, astrophotography and all-arounders, 53% off Celestron's 114AZ Smartphone-Ready Telescope, now just $85 for Black Friday. It's not the biggest of the year, but it can be among the most fiery.

The best results will happen in the early morning (just before dawn) from any dark location. Here’s how to spot them. These will appear to originate somewhere other than the constellation of Taurus, the bull, and will travel in random directions through the night sky. The Northern Taurid meteor shower peaks overnight on Nov. 11-12 and is visible from the Northern Hemisphere. They don't produce as many meteors per hour as those more famous showers, but the Taurids are well known for generally adding a healthy dose of fireballs to the night sky in late October and early November.

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