Every year around this time, Earth drifts through a cloud of debris left behind by comet 2P/Enke, associated withactive now. And every seven years or so, our planet visits a particularly dense hotbed of cosmic detritus that can set the sky on fire just in time for the celestial Halloween .
The last time we got this Taurid swarm was in 2015, so another one is expected in 2022.
These fireballs are nothing to worry about. They are essentially huge shooting stars, usually pebble- to softball-sized chunks of cosmic matter, that impact our planet and burn up in sometimes spectacular fashion, hissing through the upper atmosphere.
Taurid’s peak activity this year is set for November 5th, but it might be worth getting out and staring at the sky for as long as possible any evening during the week either side of that date. So, if you’re out and about on October 31st, keep one eye out for any naughty meteors.
The Stellar 2021 Perseid meteor shower shines in pictures from around the world
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There is a question of the full moonmeaning its presence in the night sky will wash out many of Taurid’s more fleeting shooting stars, but not the fireballs.
In a typical year, you’ll be lucky to see one or two bolides a night over the next few weeks. But if we get a swarm as expected, you might be able to catch a few in one hour, which is really nice. Definitely sweeter than more candy corn.
To maximize your chances of catching a Taurid fireball, get as far away from urban light pollution as possible and go outside around midnight local time, preferably on a clear evening. Find a place with a wide view of the sky and try to orient yourself so that the moon is not in your line of sight or behind you. Give your eyes time to adjust and take at least an hour to just relax and observe.
Remember to dress appropriately for the nighttime climate where you are and bring refreshments so you are not tempted to go back inside and lose your night vision.
Remember, don’t panic. It all burns up before it hits the ground. well.