Tonight … meteor forecasters are calling for November 11-12 to be the peak night of the North Taurid meteor shower. This shower is usually best viewed for several hours, centered around midnight or 1 a.m. Lucky for us, the new moon comes today, on November 11, guaranteeing a moon-free sky on the expected peak night of the 2015 North Taurid meteor shower. However, there is no sharp peak to this modest shower, which will be active for another month or so, and you might not see any more than five North Taurids an hour. Add a few South Taurid meteors to the mix, and the meteor show on this dark night may be worth watching, especially as the Taurids are known for exhibiting a high percentage of fireballs – extra-bright meteors.
The meteors tend to be few and far between in the early evening hours, but if you’re lucky, you might catch an earthgrazer meteor – a slow-moving and long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky. Worth a try! The meteors become more abundant around late night or midnight.
The photo at the top of this post, by the way, is a Taurid fireball captured on November 12, 2012, by our friend Mike Lewinsky.
The North Taurid meteors are named for the constellation Taurus the Bull because the meteors appear to radiate from this part of the starry sky. In fact, the radiant for this shower is not far from the famous Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, in Taurus. Taurus rises over the northeast horizon around 7 to 8 p.m. at mid-northern latitudes. At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Taurus rises a few hours later.
Taurus climbs upward as evening deepens into late night, and soars highest for the night shortly after midnight. The higher that Taurus appears in your sky, the more meteors that you’re likely to see. Because Taurus is a northern constellation, it climbs higher in the Northern Hemisphere sky than for our cousins in the Southern Hemisphere.
You don’t need to find the constellation Taurus to enjoy the North Taurid meteor shower. But you do need to find a dark, open sky. Be sure to take along a reclining lawn chair for comfort.
Bottom line: Meteor forecasters are calling for November 11-12 to be the peak night of the North Taurid meteor.