Southern Torrid Meteor Shower: Watch for flares in the sky this weekend

Marko Korosec/Solent News/Shutterstock

A meteor from one of the Torrid meteor showers creates bright streaks in the night sky over Brkini, Slovenia in November 2015. In 2023, the Southern Taurus will peak on Sunday evening, November 5.

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The first branch of the Taurid meteor shower is set to peak this weekend, presenting a tantalizing prospect for patient skywatchers.

The Southern Torrid meteors have been blazing brightly in the night sky since late September, but around peak time — 8:47 p.m. and Sunday — is when people have the best chance to catch a glimpse. According to the American Meteorological Society.

While the southern Taurus typically has a frequency of only five meteors per hour, the shower is known to be full of fireballs, indicating meteors that appear brighter than Venus. According to NASA. Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky after the Moon.

“Meteors are a part of the night sky that people are unfamiliar with,” said Bill Cook, head of NASA’s Meteorological Environment Office. “You go out, you see the stars, you see the moon, you see the planets — they’re always there … but you don’t always see meteors. Meteors are a transitory part of the night sky, and people are fascinated by that.

The best time to go outside to see a meteor is after midnight in any time zone, local weather permitting — but be prepared to stay a while if you’re sure you’ll see one, Cook said. So far, NASA’s meteor cameras have captured only one or two toroids a night, he said.

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According to the American Meteorological Society, at the peak of the shower, the Moon will be almost half full at 44%. That amount of moonlight can be distracting when looking at faint meteors, but because tarids are so bright, the moon doesn’t interfere, Cook said.

“You have to look away from the moon, but there’s no preferred direction—try to take in as much of the sky as you can,” Cook advised. “Use your eyes. You don’t want to use binoculars to see a meteor shower — too small (a) field of view.”

Most meteor showers consist of meteorites that are millimeters in length, but toroids can contain meteorites up to 1 meter (3 feet) long that appear very bright as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Although on a larger scale, most Space rocks won’t make it down to Earth, but if they do, the resulting meteorites — the term for a meteorite that makes it to the ground — won’t be large enough to break into small pieces and cause any damage, Cook said.

The southern Doris originates from Comet NK, which orbits the Sun with the shortest orbit of all known comets in the Solar System. According to NASA. Encke’s orbital period is about 3.3 years, and the comet was last seen from Earth. October 22, When it is at its perihelion or closest to the Sun.

During its journey, the comet leaves a trail of debris that appears as the Southern Taurid meteor shower when Earth’s orbit intersects its path. Although the southern tarid’s mother comet has been near recently, showers are expected to produce a lower rate this year.

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Both Torrid showers were observed to be above normal in 2022. The event, known as the Torrid Swarm, is caused by Jupiter’s gravity pulling debris ahead of Earth’s path. Scientists predict the next swarm event will occur in 2025, Cook said.

Even if rates are low this year, there’s always room for surprises.

“I never say never, because the unexpected can happen,” Cook said. “Last year was a good year for tarids, 2023 and 2024, not so much.”

Meteors from the southern Doritz are expected to light up the sky until the end of the shower on December 8. American Meteorological Society. Currently, the meteor shower overlaps with the Northern Torids, which have been active since mid-October but won’t peak until Sunday, November 12, next week.

The remaining meteor shower peaks in 2023

Judging by the peak activity of the Taurids, many more meteors will peak this year as well. Here are the remaining meteor events that peak in 2023:

● Leonidas: November 17-18

● Gemini: December 13-14

● Ursits: December 21-22

There are two more full moons in 2023. According to Farmers Almanac:

● November 27: Beaver Moon

● December 26: Cold Moon

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