If you like to watch meteors at night and missed the past Orionids in October, there is another night show coming next weekend - the Taurids Meteor Shower. This event of shooting stars, as they are also known, is associated with comet Encke and the fireballs from this comet seem to come from the direction of the constellation Taurus. The debris left by Encke is spread out into space, compared to the remnants of other comets, so the earth takes a longer time to pass through it. The meteor activity of the Taurids occurs from September through November and the number of meteors that can be seen with the naked eye is at a rate of five per hour.

Taurids-Debris of Comet Encke

The meteors are the remnants of Comet Encke. This comet has an orbital period around the sun of 3.3 years-the shortest of any bright comet. Every time a comet enters the solar system and as it gets closer to the sun, the heat from our star sublimates the ball of ice, causing it to release material in the form of a coma and a long tail. The material stays in the path of the comet and when the earth´s orbit around the sun crosses this path, it is when we can see the fireballs in the sky. The Halloween fireballs are they are also known, seem to radiate from Taurus the Bull.

Northern and Southern Taurids

Due to the gravitational pull of planets, especially Jupiter, the Taurids have spread out, making it possible to be observed in both Hemispheres of the planet; therefore, there is a Northern and Southern Taurids.

The southern stars are visible from the first weeks of September to the about the third week of November and the northern ones from the third week of October to the first weeks of December. Typically, they can be observed at a rate of five per hour and at a speed of about 25 km/s. Although the Taurids is not too active compared to other meteor events, it can produce bright shooting stars due that it is composed of a heavier material, the size of pebbles instead of dust grains.

Best time to watch the Taurids

The northern Tauris can be observed from October through December at a peak rate of five per hour; however, the moonlight can prevent a clear view. It´s best to try to spot them when Taurus is high in the sky. The after midnight hours and the darkest time before dawn offer the best opportunity to observe them.

For a better view, it´s a better option to find a spot away from city´s light pollution. For the northern Taurids, the best dates to spot them are from November 11-12, as on these dates, the waning moon will be reaching new moon, therefore interfering the minimum with the night show.