It is not a Halloween trick or an alien ship

Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)

You don’t have to call a government agency or a news station if you see a fireball overhead. It’s not a trick. It’s a treat. The Taurid meteors are charging across the sky. 

However, you might want to notify the American Meteor Society because that organization does keep track of fireball sightings and does want to hear about them.

Indeed, a sighting is likely in 2022 because AMS says the Taurids last great meteor production was in 2015. Taurids’ history has shown that its abundant output tends to happen every seven years. 

BTW, other years it’s not so great. So, the time span might be why you hadn’t heard about the Taurids before.

The meteors seem to emanate from constellation Taurus the Bull (its radiant) in two streams, the North and South Taurids. In 2022, South peaks Nov. 4-5 with North peaking Nov. 11-13. Taurus the Bull is near the constellation Orion. 

A better watching is arguably period now through Halloween and Day of the Dead. The moon cycle reaches its full stage Nov. 8 so its growing illumination period may make it harder to catch a fireball on Nov. 5.  But fireballs, like their name, are bright, so maybe try the peak date.

The Taurids already started Sept. 10 and continue through Nov. 20, 2022. As with most other meteor events, they happen when Earth passes through a stream of cometary debris. With the Taurids that is what Comet 2P-Encke, the parent comet, leaves behind, according to NASA.

NASA notes that unlike many comets, 2P-Encke is not named for its discoverer, Pierre F. A. Mechain, but for Johann Franz Encke who calculated its orbit. The letter P means it is a periodic comet.

Whatever dates you venture out to see a Taurid meteor, the best time is after midnight when the radiant is high. But dress warmly and be prepared to wait. Best watching technique is to scan the skies instead of focusing on the Taurus radiant. 

For more information visit Earth/Sky/ Taurids and Space/Taurid meteor shower.