Skygazers in the UAE are in for a rare celestial spectacle this November, with not one but two opportunities to witness the splendor of the Taurids meteor shower.
The “Halloween Fireball” Meteor Shower:
The Taurids meteor shower, also known as the “Halloween fireball,” will reach its peak rate of meteors on two separate nights, November 6 and November 13.
The Taurids meteor shower is unique because it comprises two streams, the North Taurids and the South Taurids, originating from different parts of the comet’s tail.
The Bright and Brilliant Taurids:
According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, the Taurids are known for their brilliance. While their meteor rates may not be as high, when a Taurid appears, it is usually a big and bright fireball that captivates observers.
Slow and Low Meteors:
Taurids typically burn up at lower altitudes, around 42 miles (66 km) above Earth, compared to the Orionids, which reach approximately 58 miles (93 km).
Taurids move at a slower pace across the sky, traveling at about 17 miles (27 kilometers) per 2nd or 65,000 miles (104,000 km) per hour, in contrast to the swifter Perseids at 37 miles (59 km) per second.
The Extended Taurid Season:
Taurid meteor showers are active from late September to early December, but they are best observed during their peak activity in mid-November.
These meteor showers are produced by debris from Comet 2P/Encke, which orbits the sun every 3.3 years.
Observing the Taurid Meteor Showers:
Skywatchers can observe the Taurid meteor showers from nearly any location on Earth except for the South Pole.
Meteor showers are called after the constellation from which they appear to originate, known as the radiant, and in this case, it’s the Taurus constellation.
The Taurid meteor shower has a maximum zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of five, meaning that under ideal conditions, an observer could witness up to five meteors per hour during its peak activity.
The Northern and Southern Taurids:
The meteor shower results from the Earth passing through the debris from Comet 2P/Encke. The shower is split into two parts: the Northern Taurids, peaking on November 13, and the Southern Taurids, reaching their peak on November 6.
Equipment for Observing Comet 2P/Encke:
While Comet 2P/Encke itself is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, it can be observed with a telescope having an aperture of 14 inches (350mm) or more.
So, stargazers in the UAE are in for a celestial treat this November, with the Taurids meteor shower appearing not once but twice in the night sky.