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Taurid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend with Fireballs Possible

10 Nov 2016, 2:31 pm

The yearly Taurid Meteor Shower is not known for it’s frequency of meteors, but the brightness. Only 5 to 15 meteors an hour are possible at its peak, some years with only a few meteors seen each night. But when they happen, Taurid fireballs may streak through the sky.

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A bright Taurid fireball recorded by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Tullahoma, Tennessee in 2014. Top image from NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Cartersville, Georgia in 2012.

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Taurid fireball in October 28, 2005 from NASA/Hiroyuki Iida – Japan

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November 2, 2005 NASA/Mark Vornhusen – Germany

According to NASA, every year the Earth passes through the broad dust stream leftover from the Comet Encke. When the dust hits the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up and creates the meteor shower. The bright fireball meteorites, known as the Taurid swarm, are created when the Earth runs into a group of pebble-sized fragments from the comet. Large, bright streaks are sometimes seen and occasionally with a bright, fireball style appearance. The particles enter the atmosphere at a slightly lower rate than other meteor showers, which often lead to longer, brighter streaks as well.

The peak is expected Friday and Saturday nights, according to the American Meteor Society. NASA says the best time is when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky, usually midnight and beyond. Although astronomers recommend not focusing just on Taurus because in years past, the “shooting stars” have been seen in all locations of the sky. A dark, clear sky is best away from city lights. The only hindrance this year will be a bright, nearly full moon that may make fainter meteors tough to see. No special equipment is necessary to view the meteor shower, although being comfortable and having patience will definitely help with this celestial event.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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