The first of two to appear this month, the Taurid meteor shower will illuminate the sky with a swarm of icy dirtballs during its peak Thursday night. This meteor shower will be followed by the Leonids, containing fast-moving fireballs traveling at speeds of up to 150,000 miles per hour.
The Taurid meteor shower occurs once a year and is divided into Southern and Northern Taurids. According to Inverse Science, some experts believe Jupiter interrupted the trailing meteors, causing them to split into two streams. The Southern Taurid meteor shower may be observed high in the night sky, just above the horizon, in the constellation Taurus. The best time to watch this is between midnight on Thursday and early dawn on Friday.
According to In The Sky, due to the Earth’s present rotation, St. George is now facing the direction of the incoming meteors, which increases the number of meteors falling vertically and generates the short trails visible closest to the radiant point.
The Northern Taurid meteor shower will be highest on November 11-12 and may be viewed high in the sky without a competing moon to obscure the fainter meteors. These events may be observed with the naked eye. However, some may be best appreciated with a telescope or a good set of binoculars.
Skywatchers will see a more significant number of these Taurid fireballs, known as a swarm. According to NASA scientists, they are predicted to flash across the sky, a phenomenon that occurs every seven years or so.
Comet Encke has a diameter of around 3 miles and was the second comet to be identified as a periodic, which means it returns to Earth. The comet circles Earth at a distance of 16 million miles every 3.3 years. According to Inverse Science, the first periodic comet spotted was the iconic Halley’s Comet, which only passes by Earth every 67 years.
The Leonid meteor shower, which is known to emit approximately a dozen meteors per hour, will be highest in the early morning hours of November 17, right before sunrise. The Leonid meteor shower can produce up to a dozen meteors every hour.
The Leonids are more prolific annual meteor showers, shooting fast, brilliant meteors from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle, with a radiant point in the constellation Leo the Lion.
Earth grazers are meteors that penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and then swiftly escape, occasionally bursting in mid-air. These radiant flying snowballs are very rapid, soaring through the sky at more than 43 miles per second, or nearly 154,000 mph.
Every 33 years, skywatchers are treated to a Leonid storm, which may produce hundreds to thousands of meteors per hour at its height. The most recent Leonid meteor shower occurred in 2002.
Comets were regarded as terrible omens throughout recorded history, and many ancients were terrified when they saw one dart across the sky. Many people believed that the rapid arrival of these fireballs generated chaos in the sky, causing agricultural failures, illnesses, and even the death of kings, among other disastrous happenings.
Chinese oracle bones were used to record some of the first comet sightings. Comets are no longer seen as foreboding omens but archivists of the circumstances when the solar system was first created. These celestial entities change relatively little over time.