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Not an Impressive Taurid Meteor Shower

November 12, 2011; 8:08 AM ET

You may have to wait for a while if you really wanted to see a shooting star thanks to a meteor shower. The moon is positioned close to where the North Taurid meteor shower radiates from, so the shower is very difficult to see.

If you are patient and really want to see this meteor shower, the best time to look would be just after midnight. On average, there will be only 10 meteors per hour and with luck maybe you can "catch" one.

The space map below shows where to look to see the North Taurid meteor shower and is courtesy of a favorite astronomy site of mine, This site is downright terrific and was the inspiration for this blog, and the site has graciously allowed me to use many skymaps in previous blogs. This site is an absolutely fantastic source for all sorts of information about the field of science in general.

Some facts about the Taurid meteor shower:

Due to the gravitational effect of planets, especially Jupiter, the Taurids have spread out over time, allowing separate segments labeled the Northern Taurids and Southern Taurids to become observable.

The Taurid stream has a cycle of activity that peaks roughly every 2,500 to 3,000 years, when its core passes nearer to Earth and produces more intense showers. In fact, because of the separate "branches" (nighttime in one part of the year and daytime in another and Northern/Southern in each case) there are two (possibly overlapping) peaks separated by a few centuries, every 3,000 years. Some astronomers note that dates for megalith structures such as Stonehenge are associated with these peaks. The next peak is expected around 3000 AD.

The Taurids are the remains of comet Encke.

Encke and the Taurids are believed to be remnants of a much larger comet, which has disintegrated over the past 20,000 to 30,000 years, breaking into several pieces and releasing material by normal cometary activity.

The Taurids are made up of weightier material, pebbles instead of dust grains.

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About This Blog

Astronomy Blog
The astronomy blog, by Dave Samuhel, discusses stargazing, including how weather will affect viewing conditions of astronomical phenomenon.