The 'meteors of Halloween' are back this year. What to know about spotting a fireball

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You might catch a glimpse of fireballs in the sky this week. The "meteors of Halloween" are back for the first time since 2015, according to NASA astronomers.

Tens of thousands of years ago, a large comet broke up, creating a stream of cometary debris, a Facebook post from NASA Meteor Watch said. Every year, around this time, Earth spends a couple months passing through this wide stream.

During this time, astronomers and skywatchers typically enjoy watching Taurid , which are "low activity" showers, so only a few meteors cross the sky per hour. Usually, only a few Taurids are visible from Earth, the astronomers said, but when they are able to be seen, they are "bright and noticeable."

Taurid meteor orbits are determined by the gravity of other planets in our solar system, mainly Jupiter. Some years, changes in these orbits cause an increase in the number of Taurids close to and visible from Earth, according to NASA. This change leads to a "Taurid swarm," when the number of visible fireballs jumps and can be seen by almost everyone.

This year, Earth will experience a Taurid swarm. The last time these meteor showers were visible was in 2015, and they aren't expected to be back until 2032, astronomers said.

The increase in activity typically occurs during the last week of October and the first week of November, so Taurid swarms are also known as "the meteors of Halloween."

NASA said in a blog post in 2015 that the "best time to look for Taurids is after midnight, when Taurus is high in the sky, and when the sky is dark and clear, with no moonlight to mask the fainter meteors."

"When you are out trick or treating, watch the sky—you might just see a fireball overhead!" astronomers said.

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Citation: The 'meteors of Halloween' are back this year. What to know about spotting a fireball (2022, October 31) retrieved 24 May 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-meteors-halloween-year-fireball.html
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