Stargazing and chill.
The Taurid meteor shower is upon, but don’t waste too much time thanking your lucky stars.
Although meteor showers are generally quite a cool astrological phenomena (and excuses to drag your S.O. stargazing), this one may disappoint you. It is essentially the ugly step-sister to the more astrologically impressive Perseid and Geminid meteor showers.
Here’s some information that will help you discern whether this astronomical event is worth all the hype.
What is a meteor shower anyway?
The easy answer that is sure to offend most astrologers? A meteor shower simply means that the solar system is dirty. When the earth orbits the sun, there are particles of dust it has to go through. Imagine these particles as tiny tumbleweeds on the solar system's m50. These dust-like particles are common enough, on any given night (if you look really really closely) you can see the particles enter the earth's atmosphere travelling between 30 to 80 km per second. The particles burn up when they enter the atmosphere which is what we know as 'falling stars'.
what makes this meteor shower so special?
Tonight, the Taurid meteor shower is set to produce around five to ten meteors an hour. The Taurids - named after the constellation Taurus - come from two streams of debris left behind from Asteroid 2004 TG10 and debris from Comet 2P Encke. As these dust grains hit Earth's atmosphere, they heat up and create flashes of light aka meteors. Despite the low numbers of meteors, the Taurids are known to create 'fireballs' - or extremely bright meteors.
when should i watch this meteor shower?
The showers are due to begin between November 4 and 6. However, the Taurid meteor shower is set to peak as spectacularly as that mean girl from your secondary school, tonight November 5.
The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving the sky perfectly dark for viewing.
How should I watch this meteor shower?
The darker location, the better so get away from light pollution in cities, and avoid the moon if you can. Then lean back, let your eyes adjust to the dark and watch the whole sky. As always in Ireland, clouds can be an issue, but be patient – you will see it.
Remember, the Taurids don't have a strong peak time, which means that there's a good chance of seeing meteors on many different nights. So if it's cloudy on the 5 November, you can always try again on a different day.
Main image by Prokhor Minin