Depending on where you live, you may have seen the skies light up with fireworks over the weekend. But this week we will see a different kind of (non-political) light show: the Northern Taurid meteor shower. While it technically started in October, the shower will peak this week, particularly tomorrow and Thursday (11 and 12 November), and will likely include visible fireballs in the sky. Here’s how to spot them.
When is the Northern Taurid meteor shower?
Although the Northern Taurid meteor shower has been ongoing since October, it will be most visible on November 11 and 12, so set your phone reminders right away. The view will be the best this week because Earth will pass through the densest part of a comet’s debris stream, Bill Cooke Jr., head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, told CNN.
And the fireballs?
The image of fireballs in the sky looks a bit scary – though not out of place in 2020 – but the ones we’ll see this week are far away, safe to see, and won’t hurt anyone, Cooke told CNN. We can expect to see approximately five fireballs every hour on November 11 and 12. one in the sky, although that’s probably not the best way to point out this astrological phenomenon.
So how do you know if you’ve seen a fireball? Fireballs are very bright meteors – brighter than Venus (which is the brightest thing in the sky after the moon) – and usually last a second or two. Normal meteors, on the other hand, vanish after about half a second, Robert Lunsford, resident coordinator of the American Meteor Society’s fireball report, told CNN.
How to watch meteors and fireballs
To increase your chances of seeing nature’s light show this week, head to a location with limited light pollution. The meteor shower will be most visible between midnight and just before sunrise (in your local time). The moon will be out during downpours, but it will only shine around 15%, so it could be worse. The Northern Taurid meteor shower lasts until December 10, after which the Geminid meteor shower arrives, peaking in mid-December.