Stargazers alert: Taurid fireballs are about to dazzle in the sky

Stargazers alert: Taurid fireballs are about to dazzle in the sky

Exceptionally bright meteors are expected this week.

Astonishingly bright meteors that are known as fireballs are going to make a grand entrance this week for skygazers.

The South and North Taurid meteor showers are known more for the quality rather than the quantity of meteors, and there have already been reports of extremely bright objects in the sky this weekend, according to an EarthSky report.

But more are coming, and in fact the peak isn’t even here yet. Astronomers expect the South Taurids to put on their greatest show in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, although the day before will feature some impressive displays as well.

It’s coming in concert with a waning moon, meaning it will be easier to see them. But even in the case of a strong moon, fireballs are easy to see.

What are the Taurids, exactly? They’re leftover debris from Comet 2P Encke, which formed a belt that the Earth frequently travels through, resulting in recurring meteor showers. Because it’s the Earth that’s moving toward these slow-moving debris, the meteors stay lit a lot longer when they collide with the Earth’s atmosphere.

The highest amount of Taurid fireballs appear to happen on seven year cycles, and the last one was in 2008, so this year we may be due for quite a show.

Comet Encke is a periodic comet that completes an orbit around the sun once every 3.3 years. It was first discovered in 1786, but was not recognized as a comet until 1819 when Johann Franz Encke noticed its periodic appearance. It has a diameter of about 4.8 kilometers.

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