Cosmic fireballs will occasionally light up the night sky as the Taurid meteor shower approaches its peak next week.
“Every year, the Earth passes through a stream left by Comet Encke, producing the Taurid Meteor Shower,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said in a statement. “This shower is notorious for producing fireballs, and there are signs that this could be a year of enhanced activity.”
That could be great news for Revelstoke insomniacs. Back in 2001 Larry Pawlitski invited me over to his Arrow Heights home to warch the Taurid shower. Well after midnight we had the great good fortune to see scores of fireballs and lesser meteors sizzle across the sky. But, or course, we lucked out and had a clear sky. That’s not something you can count on during a typical late-autumn or early-winter night sky.
Fireballs are extremely bright meteors that last for several seconds and can light up an entire countryside when they are at their brightest.
Unlike other meteor showers throughout the year, the peak of the Taurid shower is drawn out, lasting nearly a week.
This year, the peak is expected to occur November 5 – 12 with some meteors from the Taurids continuing to the end of the month.
The long peak of the shower means that stargazers will have several opportunities to see the Taurids, and one cloudy night should not prevent people from catching the display.
“Usually the shower only produces 5-10 meteors per hour,” Samuhel said.
The best time for viewing the Taurids may prove to be near the end of the shower’s peak during the new moon. The new moon will mean that the sky will be darker, making the Taurids appear even brighter as they glide across the night sky. As for when to look for the Taurids, there is no specific time of the night that will bring more shooting stars than another time of the night. Whenever it is dark, you’ll have a chance to see some fireballs flash before your very eyes.