It’s “fall back” time. Change clocks back an hour before you go to bed Nov. 4, 2023 or wait until morning Nov. 5, We say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time. at two a.m. on Sunday. Just remember: “Spring Ahead, Fall Back.”
Named for Taurus, the meteors shooting above now seem to emanate from that constellation. However, there is the Southern Taurids that started in September, go until Nov. 20 but peak Nov. 2-4 with a radiant at the southern part of the constellation. And, there are the Northern Taurids that peak Nov. 12-14 but have a radiant at the northern part.
The Taurids are from the comet Encke (pronounced “EN-key”), mentioned by 18th-century German astronomer Johann Franz Encke., Visit the Farmer’s Almanac and Taurid Meteor Showers for more information.
Next, are the Leonids whose parent is 55PTempel-Tuttle. They are among the fastest meteors traveling about 44 miles per second. They peak Nov. 17-18. They sometimes show up as impressive fireballs with colorful tails.
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.