If the sky is clear this coming week, be sure to take a moment to look up. You might just be lucky and have a glimpse of a spectacularly bright meteor – the Taurid meteor.
Although most meteor showers are remarkably active for about a week, the Taurids probably have the longest overall observation time. Meteors from this particular stream start appearing in our night sky around October 21 and will continue to appear until or around November 27th. Traditionally, from November 5 to November 12 is the time frame when these slow and majestic meteors stay in good condition.
Unfortunately, in 2020, this display ̵1; so far – has been severely hampered by the presence of a glowing moon. The full moon on Halloween night (the so-called “Blue Moon”). That night, a brilliant moonlight filled the night sky and wiped out all but the brightest meteors. However, after that, the moon set later in the evening and gradually decreased in brightness. The previous quarter arrives on Sunday, November 8 and after that the moon will be a thinning crescent.
Related: How meteor shower works (infographic)
Moonrise on November 5 arrives at around 8:30 pm local time. But with each passing night, the moon will rise an average of 68 minutes after that, and the window of the dark sky hours (before the moon rises) will widen slightly. The period from the night of November 11 to the dawn of November 12 is probably the best night to see the Taurid meteor shower, as the moon – which was then a thin crescent shape – won’t grow until around 3 : 15am leaving around 9pm in the evening sky, no moon for those looking for the Taurids.
Every evening, until the time the moon goes above the horizon, about 10 to 15 meteors can appear every hour. They are usually orange-yellow in color and when the meteors travel, they appear to be moving quite slowly. Their names come from the way they appear to emanate from the constellation Taurus, the Ox, lying low to the east a few hours after sunset and almost directly overhead around 1:30 a.m.
Meteors – often referred to as “meteors” – are created when debris enters and burns in Earth’s atmosphere. In the case of the Taurids, they were believed to have been left by debris left by Comet Encke,
Or perhaps by a much larger comet that, when it disintegrates, leaves Encke and a lot of other ruins behind. And indeed, the Taurid debris stream contains significantly larger debris than the debris produced by other comets, which is why this meteor stream.
sometimes bring in an unusually bright asteroid known as a “fireball”. Encke’s has the shortest known orbital period for a comet, taking just 3.3 years to make a full trip around the Sun.
Related: Comets cause meteor showers
Two streams for the price of one
The Taurids are actually divided into the North Taurids and the South Taurids. Here’s an example of what happens to a meteorite as it ages. Even in the beginning, the particles could not move in the exact same trajectory as their parent comet; Their small divergences accumulate over time.
The sun is not the only object that gravely controls the orbits of the particles; The planets are having their own subtle effects on the flow. As the positions of the planets are constantly changing, the particles move closer to them in some rotation than the other planets – diverting parts of the flow, fanning it, and splitting it. So what was originally a diffuse stream into a cloud of tiny currents and isolated particles in individual orbits, crossing the orbit of the Earth at more widely dispersed times of the year and come from more dispersed directions until they are completely stirred up into common dust in the solar system.
The two radiations, or the point where asteroids appear in the sky, lie just south of the Pleiades star cluster. So for the next few weeks, if you see a bright, slightly orange asteroid slipping quite lazily out of that famous little streak, you can be sure it could be a Taurid.
A swarm of comets
Dr. Victor Clube, an English astrophysicist and expert on comets and cosmology, suggested in a 1991 article that the Taurid meteorite stream probably contained about half a dozen full-sized asteroids. have enough orbits that place them perpendicular to the flow. Clube and his colleagues suggested that the orbital Taurids range indicated they were all dumped by a giant comet, initially 100 miles (160 km) above and above, which entered the solar system around 20,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, it was dried and brittle; Encke’s Comet may actually be the biggest piece that remains.
Some astronomers believe that another branch of the Taurid swarm – one with which the Earth interacts
In another part of our orbit, in June, may have created the famous Tunguska
meteor event over northeastern Siberia in 1908.
Encke’s has the shortest known orbital period for a comet, taking just 3.3 years to make a complete trip around the sun. Meteorologist David Asher has advanced the theory of a “resonating meteorite” in the Taurid Complex. In a nutshell, it predicts that in specific years, Earth is hit by a larger number (compared to the average years) of meteors capable of producing Taurid fireballs.
According to Asher, the next “swarm year” will be in 2022. But during a bad time, the moon will be full on November 8, right in the middle of that year’s “major observation period”.
Joe Rao serves as a guest instructor and instructor at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He wrote astronomy for Natural History, Farmer’s Yearbook and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.