The Leonids were sparse this year, but 2015 has been an incredible year for the long-lasting shower Taurids. Photos and video here.
View larger. | John Hlynialukk caught this meteor on November 14, 2015 near Wiarton, Ontario. He wrote: “A bright fireball was recorded over the ES Fox Observatory. Two meteor cameras of the UWO Meteor Network also captured the event which also produced reports from Burlington, ON, MI, OH and possibly even West Virginia. Maximum brightness was -8.4 and the fireball lasted for 3 seconds. It left a persistent trail that showed up on images for several minutes afterward. The 26° long trail was in the western sky, but appeared to radiate from Taurus, so it could have been a late N. Taurid. Canon 60Da, Sigma 10 mm lens, f/2.8, 30 second exposure on tripod at ISO 3200.”
We’ve had submissions of many spectacular photos of Taurid fireballs – or exceptionally bright meteors – over this past several weeks. Taurid meteors are split into two streams: the South and North Taurids. Both showers are known for fireballs. The South Taurids peaked on the morning of November 5, 2015, and the North Taurids peaked on the nights of November 11 and 12. But people are still reporting fireballs, and apparently the Taurids were much more interesting than the Leonids on the Leonids’ peak morning of November 18. The American Meteor Society was speaking of the North Taurids when it said on its website:
There seems to be a seven-year periodicity with these fireballs. 2008 was the last remarkable year. Perhaps 2015 will be the next?
And so it seems to be!
Why is there a seven-year cycle of Taurid fireballs? In its Taurid article, the American Meteor Society explained:
These increased numbers of fireballs are due to the fact that the Earth encounters larger than normal particles shed by comet 2P/Encke, the parent comet of the the Taurids.
The International Meteor Organization (IMO) agrees and added:
Taurid swarm return: Model calculations by David Asher have indicated the possibility there may be a return of the Taurid ‘swarm’ of larger particles this year, in October-November.
In the meantime, enjoy these photos, animations and videos of Taurid fireballs from EarthSky community members … and look up!
The first video below is from Eddie Irizarry at the La Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe (SAC). It shows a bright meteor that was “visible from all Puerto Rico” about 9:36 p.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2015.
Aaron Robinson in Idaho Falls, Idaho captured this photo on November 15, 2015. He wrote: “The Taurid meteors have been overlapping with the Leonid meteors! I have been capturing dozens of them!”
Another cool shot of a Taurid fireball, posted this morning (November 11) at EarthSky Photos on G+ by Bill Allen. Thanks, Bill! By all reports, this shower has been amazing in 2015.
View larger. | 2015 Taurid fireball leaves a puff of dust. Captured by Adam Trenholm.
View larger. | Two in one! Tyler Hofelich wrote: “Catching a rare bit of the aurora along with a beautiful meteor in NW Ohio.”
Taurid fireball seen on November 9, 2015 by Steve Shubert in St. Louis, Missouri.
View larger. | See the M-shaped constellation Cassiopeia? The North Star, Polaris, is below and to the right of it in this photo. Jason Moy caught this Taurid fireball on November 7, 2015 in Odell, Illinois.
John Ashley caught this Taurid fireball on November 6, 2015. He wrote: “Sometimes it’s luck but more often it’s patience. I used two cameras to cover most of the sky, and I still got skunked on the previous night. So I returned with cameras in tow and managed to catch exactly one excellent meteor streaking across the sky, just as the rising moon began peeking out from behind this old grain elevator.” Visit John Ashley Fine Art Photography.
View larger. April Singer of New Mexico was in for a big surprise when she took this photo of the morning planets on November 6, 2015. She exuded, “This morning I stopped to get a shot of the moon & planets and I was fine tuning my settings to capture the crescent moon when…pow! A meteor streaked through my frame!.” Thank you, April!
Ed Grzyb caught this Taurid fireball from Boston on the morning of November 3.
Taurid fireball caught on the morning of November 4, 2015 by James Younger on Vancouver Island.
John Ashley captured this Taurid meteor on November 2, from the shore of Lake Koocanusa in northwestern Montana. He wrote: “The Andromeda galaxy (top right) watches from above the roiling clouds that partially veiled northern lights (bottom left) and meteors streaking across our own Milky Way galaxy. This meteor traces back towards a region between the Pleiades and Aldebaran (in Taurus), so I suspect it was a northern Taurid meteor … ” Visit John Ashley Fine Art Photography.
View larger. | Joe Randall in Colorado caught one Taurid fireball (left side of photo) and a debris trail left by a second one (red swirl on right). Thanks, Joe!
View larger. | Taurid fireball caught by Eliot Herman in Tucson at 3:38 a.m. on November 1, 2015. Thank you, Elliot!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.