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Taurids Meteor Showers

As we enter November temperatures are beginning to drop making for a more bundled up stargazing experience. We are starting to see our familiar winter constellations come back into view and the cold dry nights actually provide some great seeing when the skies are clear.

This week the Earth is passing through the debris trail of Comet 2P/Encke which provides the fireworks known as the Taurids. We are past the peak of the South Taurids, but this Wednesday night, November 11 we will be near the peak of the North Taurids.

While the Taurids are not known to be the most prolific meteor shower, they do tend to produce quite a few fireballs. A fireball is simply a relatively large, slow moving meteor. Comet 2P/Encke has left a trail of larger, pebble sized debris that can provide a very bright show. This makes the Taurids a good show even from relatively light-polluted suburban skies. Also, 2015 is expected to be a busier than normal year for the Taurids so perhaps we will have more than the typical 7-8 meteors per hour.

To observe this shower dress warmly and grab your favorite reclining chair. The viewing will be best between midnight and dawn so the later you can stay out the better. The radiant point of the Northern Taurids is in the constellation Taurus which will be just about directly overhead at midnight on November 11. Just look a bit south and east of the Pleiades and you will be in the ballpark for the source of the shower. Keep in mind, that you may see meteors almost anywhere in the sky, they will just be emanating from this area.

While you are out there, take a pair of binoculars with you and take advantage of the dark, moonless sky. Check out the brilliant Pleiades, the mysterious Andromeda Galaxy, and the famous Double Cluster in Perseus.

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