March 20, 2023
How to see the tops of two dazzling meteor showers from Metro Vancouver

How to see the tops of two dazzling meteor showers from Metro Vancouver

One is known for producing ‘shots’ while the other has bright shooting stars with ‘persistent trails’.

Stargazers, rejoice!

November is a good month to keep your head up to the skies — provided it’s not raining cats and dogs.

Not only will Vancouver sky watchers get a chance to see the peaks of two meteor showers this month, but they can also witness a total lunar eclipse and the tail of a third meteor shower.

The Orionid meteor shower began on September 26th and will continue until November 22nd. The moderate shower peaked between October 20 and October 21, producing about 10 to 20 shooting stars. In exceptional years, they may produce as many as 50 to 75 per hour.

The Northern Taurida meteor shower starts on October 13th and will continue until around December 2nd. It will peak around November 12th to November 13th.

In an earlier interview, Jennifer MacDonald, an astronomer at the HR MacMillan Space Center, said Vancouver is awesome that although shower meteors are slower (about five of them appear every hour), they are made of a “heavier material”, which “increases the chance of fireballs a bit”.

This could also be a big year for Northern Taurids. AMS notes that “there appears to be a seven-year periodicity with these fireballs. 2008 and 2015 both produced notable fireball activity. 2022 may be the next opportunity.”

Unfortunately, the moon will be about 88 percent full at the top of the shower, which could make viewing more difficult.

What is a fireball?

The American Meteorological Society describes a fireball as a “very bright meteor” that is about the same brightness as “the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky.” Additionally, some people report seeing vivid colors because the brightness is “high enough to fall within the range of human color vision.” Some of them even report hearing “sonic booms and electrophonic sounds”, though very rarely.

In order to see the Taurid shower, sky watchers should look for the constellation Taurus, MacDonald said. “Look for Orion’s belt, then go northeast and look for the bright red star, Aldebaran.”

The Orionid shower is visible anywhere on Earth and is considered a “moderate shower”. notes that “If you find the shape of Orion the hunter, the radiation (or point of origin) of the meteor shower will be near Orion’s sword, just north of its left shoulder (the star Betelgeuse). This that said, meteors coming from the shower radiation will have shorter tails and so it’s best to look slightly away from it.

Leonid meteor shower in Vancouver sky

After the total lunar eclipse and the peak of the Northern Taurids, Vancouverites will have a chance to catch the finale of another meteor shower in the city: the Leonids.

The Leonid meteor shower begins on November 3rd and lasts until December 2nd and is popular for producing five “meteors” in the last 200 years. While one of those isn’t predicted for 2022, there could be “good displays” of up to 100 shooting stars per hour, according to the American Meteorological Society.

The Leonids are also popular for producing “bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains”.

You can catch the peak of the shower from November 17th to November 18th.

2022 Fall Meteor Shower Hunting Tips in Metro Vancouver

To fully enjoy the spectacle, here are some meteor hunting tips:

  • If possible, move away from city lights, which make it harder to see fainter meteors. To increase your chances of seeing shooting stars, start by looking for dark skies outdoors.
  • If you need to use a flashlight, place a red filter over the bulb (a red balloon will bind). White light is very blinding and can affect your night vision.
  • Dress warmly. It’s still a good idea to bring warm (even winter) clothes.
  • Sit back and relax in a reclining chair or lie on a blanket. Not only is it much more comfortable to stargaze lying down, but you’ll also see more that way.
  • Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee—it’ll come in handy if you start to drift off or get a little cold!
  • Be patient. It may take a while before you see your first shooting star. Don’t rush to give up… It’s worth the wait!

Learn how you can see the rare total “beaver” lunar eclipse.

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