Curious when to catch a shooting star during the Taurid Meteor Shower 2023? We tell you everything you need to know! Have questions after reading our article? Ask us in the comments section below!
Three separate meteor showers occur during the month of November: The South Taurids, the North Taurids, and the Leonids.
What Are The Taurids?
The Taurids are named after Taurus because that is the constellation from which they appear to emanate (the “radiant”). The radiant point for the Southern Taurids (which last from about September 10—November 20 and peak during the late evening/early morning hours of November 2-4), is found in southern Taurus, while the Northern Taurids (which last from about October 20—December 10 and peak in the early morning hours of November 12–14), radiate from the northern part of the constellation.
The Taurids are unusual in that many meteors may be seen in the evening as the shower’s radiant (Taurus) is fairly high in the sky all night and crosses the meridian (high toward the southern part of the sky) about an hour before midnight.
They are the slowest of any of the major annual meteor showers, encountering the Earth at 17 miles per second. They are known to have many bright colors. The dominant color is yellow, but orange, green, red and blue fireballs have been recorded.
The Taurids are caused by the dust of the comet Encke (pronounced “EN-key”), credited to Johann Franz Encke, an 18th-century German astronomer.*
Details For The Taurid Meteor Showers 2023
How can you catch a shooting star during the Taurid Meteor Showers 2023? We suggest looking to the southern sky from November 6—13.
Note: Late-night viewing this year will be hindered by the light of the waning Moon until around November 9, so if you are not an early-riser you may want to be on the lookout from November 10-13. Expect approximately 10 shooting stars per hour. (It may be possible to see 3 or 4 Taurid meteors per hour from late October through the end of November.)
Observers can also take advantage of the unusually long duration of the shower—Earth takes at least two months to traverse the Taurid stream, believed to have become diffuse over the centuries because of its great age.
What Are Meteor Showers, Exactly?
To understand meteor showers a bit better here’s a simple explanation: As a comet travels through space, it releases a trail of dusty material, essentially, a “river of rubble.” So even though the comet itself may be far from the Earth, every time the Earth sweeps across that comet orbit (which in the case of the Taurids, it does every November), it encounters that rubble river again. And when those tiny bits ejected by the comet ram into our atmosphere, they create the “shooting star” effect.
The “river of rubble,” which we know more familiarly as “meteors,” or “shooting stars” are made up of metallic or stony particles that become visible when they plunge through our atmosphere. Though 100 million or more strike our atmosphere every 24 hours, those particles that are larger than dust are usually vaporized long before they can ever get close to the Earth’s surface. The average meteor is estimated to weigh only 0.0005 ounces.
* Astronomer Joe Rao tells us, “Encke did not discover the comet; it was actually discovered several times by other observers, but Encke was able to “tie together” those apparitions and prove that all those comets were actually one and the same. It was only the second comet to have its orbit accurately determined (the first was Halley’s), so to honor this achievement Encke was honored by having the comet named for him. Interestingly, however, Encke always referred to the comet as “Pons” (one of the observers who previously discovered it). Encke spent about 40 years of his life checking and refining the orbit of his comet, yet up till the time he died, he never took the time to look at it through a telescope. A desk man to the end!”
Join The Discussion
Have you ever seen a shooting star during the Taurid Meteor Showers?
Share your experience (and photos!) in the comments section below!