Northern Taurid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Following the Southern Taurids show, the Northern Taurids will peak tonight. This shower is not known for a lot of meteors, but the ones it produces are the best fireballs. Sometimes breaking up as they streak across the sky and burn up. Often producing an orange light or glow. Due to their slower speed and bright light the taurids are the easiest to photograph. Not that taking a picture of any meteor is easy, it is rather difficult. Thankfully digital technology has made that much easier enabling photographers to take a multitude of shots to capture a fireball.

The Northern Taurids produce about five to ten meteors per hour. Despite the full beaver moon tonight, the Northern Taurids are usually very bright and last almost a full second or more. Most meteor showers are sub second speed, a quick faint streak. The best viewing time is 1 AM to 2 AM standard daylight time across the northern hemisphere. The Northern Taurids’ radiant is the area to the right of the constellation Taurus.

Debris shed by Comet P1/Encke is the source of the Taurids, passing by earth every 3.3 years. The earth passes through this debris field (meteoroids) the last quarter of the year. During the last week of October into the first week of November the earth passes through the densest part of the debris field. Causing the most activity in the sky.

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The debris field of the comet P1/Encke is separated into two main streams due to planetary perturbations (orbit disturbance or shift) from Jupiter, the Southern and Northern Taurids. The tuarids make for a busy sky at the end of the year followed by the Leonids. Active from November 6 to 30th and will peak from midnight to dawn on Monday, November 18. These are produced by the debris field of comet Tempel-Tuttle. The moon will be 80% full.

Viewing winter meteor showers is cold, but the sky is much clearer due to the temperatures. A good thermal sleeping bag and a lawn chair is perfect. I’ve even used the electric blanket and a long heavy duty extension cord. These cold viewing nights will have to suffice until we get into the early spring and start the yearly viewing cycle all over again.

Meteor showers in December …

Active from December 4th to December 17th
Peaks December 13-14 2019

Moon 96% full

Active from December 17th to December 26th
Peaks December 21-22 2019
Moon 20% full.

Active December 27th, 2019 to January 10th, 2020
peaks January 3 -4
Moon 58% Full

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