Nov 05, 2016 I Brett Tingley

The Tunguska Event Comet Will Light The Sky With Fireballs

If we could all take a moment to put down Pokémon GO and Tinder and take a look overhead, we’d probably find the skies are full of interesting phenomena. This Halloween season was a rare treat, with UFOs over Phoenix, Arizona, mysterious green fireballs lighting up the skies over Japan, and a near-miss by a massive asteroid. Now, things are about to get a little more interesting thanks to the Taurid meteor shower set to peak throughout the first half of November.

The Taurid meteor shower isn't the most active, but its fireballs are usually especially bright.

According to the American Meteor Society, the Taurids appear to have a seven-year cycle which culminates in an extra-bright and active meteor shower. In 2008 and 2009, the meteors were especially vibrant, leading some to speculate that this year’s shower might result in a particularly exciting show. Luckily, the Moon is also in a waxing crescent phase, meaning it won’t be reflecting so much light as to obscure the meteor shower.

The Taurid meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation Taurus.

NASA meteor researcher Bill Cooke told that while the Taurid meteor shower isn’t the most productive shower, the fireballs that do manage to light up our atmosphere will be worth the wait:

In general, the Taurids are very bright. So there may be only five per hour, but they are bright. That's their claim to fame. The rates are low, so be prepared to look for a while. reports that the meteor shower will peak in the Northern Hemisphere around November 4th and 5th, while skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere will get their best glimpse of the light show around November 11th and 12th.

The Taurid meteor shower is estimated to be over 20,000 years old.

The Taurid meteor shower is the result of debris left in the wake of Comet Encke, a rocky comet that orbits the sun every 3.3 years. Some astronomers have speculated that a piece of the comet could have been the cause of the mysterious Tunguska event in 1908 that flattened trees in a 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mile) radius and was heard hundreds of miles away throughout Siberia. Who knows - maybe this year could bring about another repeat explosion. Stock up on ear plugs.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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