March 27, 2023
Whole-sky panorama with stars, moon, thin white streak.

EarthSky | Taurid meteors: Will there be a swarm this year?

You can see that this meteor radiates from the constellation Taurus the Bull. See that V-shaped pattern to the right and above Orion? This is the star cluster Hyades, which forms the Face of the Bull. Elliott Herman in Tucson caught this Taurid meteor in 2015. The bright object was the moon! Thanks, Elliott. 2015 was the last good year for Tauride meteorites. Will there be a swarm this year?

What are Tauride meteorites?

The South and North Taurida meteor shower is active every year during the months of October and November. They are billed as the big annual meteor shower, but observers rarely see more than five meteors per hour. Astronomers studying the Taurids discovered that Earth encounters a larger-than-normal collection of debris at three- or seven-year intervals. Close connections with the planet Jupiter cause this concentration. Interestingly, only the southern branch has this concentration of debris. fireballsor meteors that are larger and brighter than anything else in the sky except the sun and moon, probably come from these larger particles.

The Southern Taurides last from about September 10th to November 20th and peak around November 4th/5th. The Northern Taurides overlap these, starting from October 20th to December 10th, peaking around November 12th/13th.

Will we see a Taurida meteor shower in 2022?

Taurid fireballs are often colorful and show fragmentation as they slowly cross the sky. During a normal display, only 1% of all Taurida meteors are fireballs. In extreme years, when the Earth passes through a concentrated debris field, the percentage can be as high as 7%. Thus, visual observers and astrophotographers may see many fireballs each night instead of the normal rate of one every 20 hours. The last time Earth encountered gathering or swarm of Taurid meteors was in 2015. That year, rates for the South Taurids reached 10 per hour with numerous fireballs like the one pictured above.

This year we have another opportunity to witness enhanced prices during a two-week period centered around the November 5 peak date. Unfortunately, a full moon occurs on Nov. 8, so only a few hours of dark sky are available on the 5th. The moon will wash out most meteors in the days after the predicted peak. However, the fireballs are bright enough to shine through the moonlight. The best viewing time is before the full moon arrives on November 8. However, if you’re out on the morning of November 8 to watch the total lunar eclipse, you might get lucky and spot some Taurid meteors, too.

The radiation of the Taurid meteor shower

The radiation of the Southern Taurides lies in western Taurus, south of the famous Pleiades star cluster. Because of the Earth’s motion around the sun, the radiation will drift eastward a little less than one degree each night and slightly northward. Therefore, if you watch the Taurides in October, the radiation will be in the constellation of Aries. Seen after November 5, the radiant is slowly approaching the familiar V-shaped constellation of the Hyades in Taurus.

As seen from the Northern Hemisphere, the Taurid radiation is above the horizon all night. It is highest near 2:00 AM. local time. If you observe the evening hours, look towards the east. Those viewing after 2am should face west. If the moon is in the sky, keep it out of your line of sight to avoid damaging your night vision. Taurid meteors are visible from most of the Southern Hemisphere but in smaller numbers because the radiation appears lower in the sky from places south of the equator.

Star chart showing the constellation Taurus with two sets of radial arrows, one near the Pleiades.
The Taurida meteorites consist of 2 streams, the South Taurida meteorites and the North Taurida meteorites. Both currents seem to originate near Taurus the Bull. You may see Southern or Northern Taurids throughout October and into November. Graphic via Chelynne Campion/ EarthSky.

Observers can submit the number of meteors they saw

Serious observers are encouraged to count the number of meteors observed and submit them to the International Meteor Organization (IMO). This option is for registered members, but is free for those who just want to contribute data. Creates an observation log that you keep and add to after each meteor shower session. To produce scientifically useful data, refer to information on visual observations. Additionally, you’ll want to determine your viewing conditions.

You should watch for at least an hour to get a real picture of the overall activity. Also, check here for more tips on viewing meteor showers. Meteors rarely occur at regular intervals but often occur within launches with gaps of five to 10 minutes without activity. We recommend that observers use a comfortable lounger with a pillow and blanket. Getting cold is no fun when you’re out under the stars!

When are future swarms predicted?

The next predicted Taurid swarm is in 2025 and will likely be weaker than 2022. Especially since the full moon occurs on the same night as the peak activity. Beyond that, 2032 looks to be a great year, as the moon will be new and Earth will pass very close to the center of the cluster. Mark your calendar now!

The southern Taurida meteoroid debris in space

Studying the Taurid meteorites for large hidden asteroids

Bottom line: Take this opportunity to watch for a potential spike in Taurid meteor fireball activity by sky-watching from October 29 to November 7, 2022.

Source: Observational composition of the Taurida meteorite cluster

Meteor showers: Tips for watching the show

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