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.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Prior to that, she had worked for the University of Texas McDonald Observatory since 1976, and created and produced their Star Date radio series. 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. In 2020, she won the Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society, the largest organization of professional astronomers in North America. 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.
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