The Southern Taurids are active each year between mid-September and the end of November. The meteor shower is the first of two Taurid showers and precedes the Northern Taurids next month. Astronomers have traced the Southern Taurids’ origin back to the comet 2P/Encke.
What is the Southern Taurid meteor shower?
There are two Taurid showers each year but they both originate from different rocky bodies.
The Southern Taurids are the orbital debris left behind in the trail of Comet 2P/Encke.
The comet has a very broad stream of material, which is why the shower lasts around two months.
When Earth passes through this littered-trail, the space rock chunks burn up in the atmosphere at high speeds.
The Northern Taurids, on the other hand, are the cosmic rubble of the Asteroid 2004 TG.
- Meteor shower 2019: How to see tonight’s beautiful Southern Taurids
The two showers share a name because of their radiant in our skies.
The radiant is the point from which a meteor shower appears to burst out.
In this case, the Taurids radiate from a point in the sky close to the constellation Taurus the Bull.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London said: “The Taurids are a slow and long-lasting meteor shower, occurring every year from late October and through November.
“Even at their peak, the Taurids are not particularly frequent, but they do provide a sprinkling throughout the two months.”
What is the best time to see the Taurid meteor shower?
The Southern Taurids are active every year from around September 10 to November 20.
The Taurids are a slow and long-lasting meteor shower
Royal Observatory Greenwich
This year, the meteor shower peaks on the night of Thursday, October 10, to Friday, October 11.
Unfortunately, the Taurids are not known for exhibiting a sharp peak and at most will only produce around five shooting stars an hour.
Maritime astronomer Bruce McClure off EarthSky.org said: “This shower favours the Northern Hemisphere, but no matter where you live worldwide, the best viewing hours are usually in the wee hours just after midnight.
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“This year, as the shower peaks in 2019, Moon will be up high and shining mightily around the midnight hour, bleaching out these meteors.
“Yet a high percentage of Taurid meteors tend to be fireballs, so let’s hope a few Taurid fireballs can overcome the moonlight.”
Tonight (October 10) the Moon will be illuminated to about 90 percent.
A bright Waxing Gibbous Moon like this threatens to wash out the night skies.
What are the best conditions to see the meteor shower?
Astronomers typically advise finding a dark and quiet spot with an unobstructed view of the horizon.
An open field far from sources of light is usually a good bet – the key is to see the entire sky at once.
The Royal Observatory said: “Meteor showers are best seen with a good, clear view of the stars on a night with no clouds.
“Try to find somewhere with dark skies, an unobstructed horizon and very little light pollution.
“The Taurids are not particularly dramatic – use this as a chance to familiarise yourself with the night sky.
“Perhaps you’ll catch a lucky shooting star while you’re out there.”
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