Heads up! It's a good time to look for the Taurids meteor showers putting on stellar nighttime shows. This long-lasting Northern Taurids shower — which, with its sibling shower, the Southern Taurids — runs throughout late October and November.
Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. In this case, both the Southern Taurids and the Northern Taurids are the leftovers of Comet Encke (officially 2P/Encke), which orbits the sun every 3.3 years. As comets get closer to the sun and warm up, they shed a lot of material, creating a stream of dust particles. If a comet’s path crosses the orbital path of Earth, there’s a good chance that Earth will later pass through that stream of debris — resulting in shooting stars.
1. Keep your expectations realistic.
There isn't a clear peak to the Northern Taurids, so don’t expect a shower in the sense of a shower of rain. You might not see any more than five North Taurids an hour. But it's not necessarily the number of Taurids that makes this shower amazing...
2. Look for fireballs!
The Northern and Southern Taurids are known for having a high percentage of fireballs, also known as extra-bright meteors.
3. Watch around midnight.
That’s when the radiant point in the constellation Taurus the Bull will be well above your horizon (in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres).
4. There's less action in the evening hours.
Although there's few meteors in the evening, you just might catch an earthgrazer meteor, which is a slow-moving and long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky.
5. You can watch the shower from anywhere on Earth.
The higher that Taurus appears in your sky, the more meteors you’re likely to see. Because Taurus is a northern constellation, it climbs higher in the Northern Hemisphere, but you can still see it from the Southern Hemisphere.
6. Find a dark place to watch.
You don’t need to spot Taurus to enjoy the North Taurid meteor shower, but it's helpful to find a dark, unobstructed sky.
7. You've got more than one shot.
You've got more than one night to catch a glimpse of the North Taurids. The shower will be active through November, though the waxing moon will make moonlight more of a factor in the weeks ahead.