Just as in October, November could be rife with fireballs, as the Northern and Southern Taurid meteor showers bracket one of the flashiest shooting star spectacles of the year, the Leonids.
The Taurids tend to be faint anyway, and this time since the moon is bright during the first shower, the meteors that blaze to life in honor of our warriors around Veterans’ Day may not be all that visible.
“Taurid meteors tend to be slow-moving, but sometimes very bright,” says Earthsky.org. “In 2014, a bright waning gibbous moon will bleach out all but the brighter meteors during the late evening and wee morning hours. But try watching before moonrise on the evening of November 11, and even after the moon rises, you still might catch some bright meteors in the wee morning hours of November 12.”
Before that, Earthsky.org notes, the Southern Taurids are due between midnight and dawn on November 5, and might even produce fireballs. However that will mostly be visible below the equator, thus entertaining aboriginals in Australia and elsewhere.
Both Taurid showers are “long-lasting but modest,” Earthsky.org says, with the peak for the North Taurids being just seven meteors hourly at best.
November’s pièce de résistance, though, comes later in the month, with the Leonids, which have been known to dazzle and even intimidate with thousands of meteors per hour, or even per minute in a brilliant year. Comprised of debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle, the shower peaks late in the night of November 17-early 18.
Stay tuned for more on that in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, remember to set the clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. on November 2, or before bedtime on Saturday November 1. And just think—you'll have an extra hour to gaze at the sky looking for that special wish-worthy shooting star.