It’s time to start planning, because the Taurids meteor shower is about to hit. Meteor showers are always fun to experience with the kids, and if you have a novice stargazer at home, this show will be a dazzling jump right into the fall season. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the Taurid meteors?
The Taurid meteors are a meteor shower that are known for being dazzling when they come — but coming far and few between.
"The Taurids are rich in fireballs, so if you see a Taurid, it can be very brilliant, and it'll knock your eyes out, but their rates absolutely suck," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. "It's simply the fact that when a Taurid appears, it's usually big and bright.”
Since the Taurid meteors show up in mid-to-late October, they’re sometimes called "Halloween fireballs,” so you might be able to see one as you trick-or-treat. That won’t be when they peak, but it might be a great time to try to view one.
When will the Taurid meteor peak?
The Taurid meteor shower has two streams: the Southern and the Northern Taurids, which peak at different times.
The Southern Taurids will peak between Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, while the Northern Taurids will peak between Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, according to Space.com.
Though Space.com suggests looking for the showers while they peak, “late October may be the best time to view the Taurid meteor shower,” as that’s “when the northern and southern showers overlap.” And remember: the full moon hits on November 8th.
How can I watch the Taurid meteor shower?
After deciding whether you will catch the Southern Taurid or Northern Taurid, you then have to narrow down which day of the two peaks you choose. For the Southern showers, it’s either Friday or Saturday night on November 4th or 5th; for the Northern showers, you’ll have to choose between Saturday or Sunday on November 12th or 13th.
The next step is to ensure you’ve got the best time narrowed down and the best conditions to make the stargazing a happy memory-making experience. Also, since the best way to take in the meteor showers is when it’s dark out, you’ll have to resolve yourself to the kids staying up later than their typical bedtime. The best time to start watching the show is around midnight.
The best way to watch for meteors is to lean back and relax. Space.com suggests getting deck chairs if you have them, but the grass will work, too. There won’t be a need for a telescope or binoculars to catch this shower, either.
There’s one other suggestion: Look up every once in a while while you’re trick-or-treating. You might just happen to catch the Taurids. But that may be an impossible task, since your eyes won’t have adjusted to the darkness of the sky.
“The secret” to being able to see the meteors unaided, after all, “is to take in as much sky as possible and allow about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark,” Space.com suggests.
Also, ensure you and the kiddos are dressed for the weather since November weather tends to be cooler.
The next meteor shower we can start planning for with the kids is the Leonids shower, which will peak in mid-November.