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Taurid meteor shower time: how to catch the fireballs at their peak



  Figure 3

A Taurid fireball caught in 2015.


P. Spurny / Czech Academy of Sciences

One of the most dramatic meteor showers of the year reaches its peak, and this week may be the best time to catch the the Taurids .

During the last three months of every year, the Earth has drifted through a cloud of debris left by the Comet P1

/ Encke. While pieces of dust and pebbles collide with our atmosphere and burn out, they create the meteor tracks that we & # 39; shooting stars & # 39; and sometimes even larger, clearer fireballs in the sky.

We are passing the densest part of the debris cloud right now and that means that the Taurid meteor shower, which is divided into two streams of debris called the Northern Taurids and Southern Taurids, are near their tops, according to the American Meteor Society .

Unlike more famous meteor showers such as the Perseids the Taurids do not have a particularly steep peak when an abundance of meteors can be seen on one or two nights. The first viewing time is more spread over a few weeks, and may produce a handful of meteors per hour – hopefully including a few fireballs – in the early morning hours after midnight, local time.

In addition to producing clear, colorful and sometimes fragmented fireballs, the Taurids are known for moving slowly. They can last up to a second in the sky, making them easier to photograph than other meteors that can literally be missed in an instant.

The moon grows a little more full every week, so it might be best to head out earlier than later to catch the show to prevent it from being drowned out by all that moonlight.

For the optimum viewing experience, find a location as far as possible from light pollution and with the widest possible view of the sky. Think of hill tops or fields in the countryside. Bundle up, lie back and just look up after your eyes have adjusted to the dark. You don't have to look at a certain part of the sky.

Enjoy the show and when you capture fireballs on video, you share the images with me on Twitter @EricCMack .


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