Northern Taurids Meteor Shower: Be Ready for a Spectacular Fireball Display

Experience the enchanting 2020 Northern Taurid meteor shower’s vibrant lights illuminating the skies of Ashland, Oregon. This extraordinary celestial event is preparing to reach its climax on the evening of November 12, 2023. Stay informed and inspired by the wonders of science with CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter, your gateway to captivating discoveries and cutting-edge advancements.

The exhilarating saga of the Taurid meteor shower is far from over, as one of its two stellar streams is expected to peak this weekend. During the Northern Taurids’ most active phase, the sky will witness dazzling meteors streaking across the canvas of the night. The Southern Taurids had their moment of brilliance on November 5, and the mesmerizing duet has astounded enthusiasts since mid-October. The Northern Taurids are projected to reach their peak at approximately 7:21 p.m. ET on Sunday, according to EarthSky.

Originating from a parent comet, the Encke, both Taurid showers are known for their limited activity, with an average of five meteors per hour. Nonetheless, due to the substantial size of the comet’s debris – some measuring up to 1 meter in diameter – Taurid meteors appear strikingly bright as they traverse the atmosphere, as noted by Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Observers may be delighted by the sight of these hefty meteors, which often outshine the planet Venus, the second-brightest object in the night sky after the moon, and are categorized as fireballs by NASA.

Those eager to witness this spectacle are advised to be well-prepared for an extended viewing session. To maximize the experience, NASA’s Cooke recommends a comfortable setup, possibly bringing along a sleeping bag or cot, suitable attire, and a readiness to spend several hours outdoors. The best window for observing the Northern Taurids will extend from a few nights before and after Sunday’s peak, contingent on favorable local weather conditions, with the optimal time for spotting a meteor lingering after midnight in any time zone.

The 2023 Northern Taurids are expected to emanate from the radiant constellation Taurus and reach their apex in the sky during the early morning hours. The lunar stage, with its mere 2% illumination, will create ideal viewing conditions, ensuring the moon’s radiance does not impede meteor visibility, as explained by the American Meteor Society.

While Taurid rates may be relatively low this year, astronomers have documented periodic surges in activity, indicating potential outbursts every three or seven years. Scientists forecast the next such event, known as a “Taurid swarm,” to occur in 2025, revealing the elusive and awe-inspiring nature of these meteor showers. These cosmic phenomena can be traced back to asteroid remnants from the Encke Complex, suggesting a profound connection with Earth’s orbital trajectory and its intersections with their flight path.

Occasionally, these celestial remnants, such as the Taurids, can traverse Earth’s atmosphere and endure the descent, leading to the emergence of meteorites upon impact with the ground. Despite the size and appearance of these meteorites, they are typically of no substantial consequence and, upon reaching the ground, are cool and safe to handle. The Northern Taurids are anticipated to enthrall spectators with their radiant display until the conclusion of the shower on December 2, 2023.

For those craving more celestial delights, the subsequent meteor showers projected to reach their peak in 2023 include:

– Leonids: November 17-18
– Geminids: December 13-14
– Ursids: December 21-22

Furthermore, the year 2023 presents two full moons whose luminous allure is not to be missed, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:

– November 27: Beaver moon
– December 26: Cold moon

Indulge in these celestial showcases and elevate your cosmic odyssey with the captivating wonders on the horizon.


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