The Southern Taurids meteor shower arrives every year in late September and lasts until mid-November, peaking at the end of October.
While the Southern Taurids is a relatively minor meteor shower — lesser known than summer’s Perseids and winter’s Geminids — anyone watching should be able to get a glimpse of seven or so exceptionally bright shooting stars every hour.
Here’s what you can expect:
October’s full moon occurred on Oct. 24, and since Halloween is a full week after that, everyone should get treated to a mostly dark sky, assuming you can escape the bright lights of big cities and Halloween parties — and as long as there are no big Halloween storms.
The best spot to see the meteors will be high in the southern night sky, near the Taurus constellation, from which the shower gets its name.
All of these meteors are made up of dust and debris from the Comet Encke, the most frequent known comet in our solar system. The officially named “2P/Encke” orbits the sun every 3.3 years, and the Earth crosses its orbit every fall, which is why we get this annual treat.
This Halloween, you don’t need to dress up as an astronomer to see this spectacle. You just need to brave the cool, fall air, look up, and patiently wait to spot roughly one meteor every 10 minutes. According to Twitter user @vivstoitsis, the Southern Taurids shower is known for its bright meteors. And by the looks of the photo, it would certainly be hard to miss it.
The Southern Taurids is active. The shower is known for its bright meteors. pic.twitter.com/TLgBmCzFkU
— Con Stoitsis (@vivstoitsis) September 13, 2017
If you’re not willing to wait for a measly seven meteors every hour, the Geminid meteor shower in mid-December is typically the biggest show of the year with up to 120 shooting stars every hour!
But if you’re out trick-or-treating this Halloween, you may as well glance upward to try and spot a meteor while the kids are marching from house to house. It might be just the seasonal treat you are seeking.
Have you ever had the opportunity to see a meteor shower?
Jason Meyers is a part-time meteorologist and big-time fan of looking up. You can follow him on Twitter or watch one of his entertaining and educational YouTube videos.