Let’s say what you’re going to do about 2020, which was a brilliant year in the night sky, withand ample meteor showers continue in November with the annual arrival of the Taurids and Leonids.
The Southern Taurid and the Northern Taurid are currently active and tend to produce a lot of sizzle in the form of fireballs lighting the sky. The South Taurid branch has peaked, but is still able to continue contributing to the total fireballs. According to the American Meteor Association, or AMS, the Northern carriers will reach maximum service by the night of November 11 through the next morning.
Taurids are created when the Earth passes a cloud of debris left by Comet 2P / Encke around this time each year. Small chunks of dust can be seen burning in our upper atmosphere in the form of “meteors”, while larger pieces of cosmic rock can create more dramatic fireballs.
Meanwhile, the Leonids are only active this week and will stay with us until the end of the month. This rain is likely to originate from comet 55P / Tempel-Tuttle and has appeared in a number of reality shows over the centuries as intense meteor storms creating hundreds of visible meteors each hours.
AMS said it is unlikely we will see such a storm in our lifetime (most recently in 2001), even though 2030 could see a minor storm. This year, the Leonids offers the chance to see around 15 meteors per hour at their peak on November 16 and November 17, when the moon’s tiny fragment will not produce much noise. Leonids tend to be quite bright with some enduring trains.
Photo of the Perseid meteor shower 2020 that shines in a dark year
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To catch any Taurids or Leonids, the best strategy is to venture out early in the morning before dawn, as close to the respective peak of the showers as possible. Stay away from light pollution if you can, dress appropriately and find a comfortable place to lie back with a wide, open view of the sky.
Next, relax, let your eyes adjust and just watch. It is not necessary to focus on a specific area of the sky, but if you can spot the constellations Leo and Taurus, then the Leonids and Taurids will appear from these parts of the bulb respectively. the sky and spread out like spokes on a wheel.
Enjoy some fire in the sky and follow any epic fireball pics you come across on Twitter @EricCMack.