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Taurid Meteor Shower - 2019
Category: Cosmic Events
On 4-6 November, 2019, the Northern Taurid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity with 5 to 10 meteors per hour.
Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from October 20th to November 30th.
In 2019, the South Taurid meteor shower peaked overnight on Oct. 9-10 for the Southern Hemisphere. Sky watchers in both hemispheres can still see meteors through late November.
Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars.
By determining the speed and direction at which the meteors impact the Earth, it is possible to work out the path of the stream through the Solar System and identify the body responsible for creating it. The parent body responsible for creating the Taurid shower is 2P/Encke.
The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 10 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula.
The radiant of the shower will appear 57° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 8 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.
The radiant of the Taurid meteor shower is at around right ascension 04h00m, declination 22°N, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above.
Where to look
The Taurids are visible practically anywhere on Earth, except for the South Pole. They appear to originate in the constellation Taurus the bull. To find Taurus, look for the constellation Orion and then peer to the northeast to find the red star Aldebaran, the star in the bull's eye.
Don't look directly at Taurus to find meteors; the shooting stars will be visible all over the night sky. Make sure to move your gaze around the nearby constellations. Meteors closer to the radiant have shorter trails and are more difficult to spot. If you look only at Taurus, you might miss the shooting stars with the most spectacular trails.
The best place to look to see as many meteors as possible is not at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 90° away from it, since it is at a distance of around 90° from the radiant that meteors will typically appear at their brightest.
The Handbook of the British Astronomical Association.
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