There are three meteor showers in November, two of which follow close on the heels of each other.
The South Taurids, which peak on 4th & 5th November; and
The North Taurids, which peak on 11th & 12th November.
The Taurids are thought to be debris from the comet Encke, which is believed to be part of a much larger comet. This larger comet has disintegrated over the past 20-30,000 years, leaving a trail of debris that is spread out over a wide area of space. This is why it takes several weeks for the Earth to pass through the debris.
The waxing crescent moon this year sets early in the evening, making it a good year for meteor watching as the skies will be pitch black. The Taurid meteor showers are visible Worldwide!
The Taurids are well known for their large fireball meteors, so whilst I wouldn’t want to sit out for hours waiting for meteors during this slow moving shower, I will most certainly keep looking up over the next few weeks.
If we are lucky enough to catch a fireball meteor, it is a truly amazing sight. Fireballs burn slowly and often leave huge trails, right across the sky (see above pic). Astronomers have taken to calling these meteors Halloween Fireballs. If you see one, it is likely to ruin your night vision for a few minutes afterwards.
The best time to watch either of these meteor showers is between midnight and dawn, with the South Taurids easier to see shortly after midnight on 5 November and the North Taurids any time after midnight on 11 November. Given that there is an overlap of these two meteor showers, even though they peak at different times, it is safe to say that on a clear night, you might be lucky to catch several falling stars 😉
The below picture shows exactly where in the sky to look. If you know your directions, look North and follow the sky round towards the North East and then East until you find Orion’s Belt. The radiant point for the Taurid meteor showers are just north of Orion, but truly, with these two Taurid showers crossing over each other, meteors could come from anywhere in the sky! If you know where the constellation Taurus is in the night sky, it should be quite high above your head around midnight and that’s also a good place to keep an eye on.