Monday, November 9, 2015

The Taurids continue to impress

For the second week in a row, Earth is passing through a swarm of gravelly debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. Over the weekend Graeme Whipps observed a pebble-sized fragment of Comet Encke disintegrating over Aberdeenshire, Scotland:

"What a cracking night," says Whipps. "I don't remember seeing so many bright meteors, and the auroras weren't bad either!" 

Earth runs unto the debris zone of Comet Encke every year around this time. Usually, the encounter produces a minor meteor shower, but 2015 is different. By some measures, fireball rates are 10x higher than normal. The extra fireballs are coming from a "swarm" of gravelly meteoroids that weaves in and out of Comet Encke's dusty debris zone. In most years, Earth misses the swarm. This year, however, is a hit.

The display is expected to continue until approximately Nov. 10th. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours around midnight when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky. 

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