·

Taurid meteor shower – Earth is entering a debris from comet Encke

taurids-earth-entering-debris-comet-encke

Every year in late October or early November, Earth passes through comet Encke’s wake, resulting in the well-known Taurid meteor shower. Because of their occurrence in late October and early November, they are also called Halloween fireballs. They are named after their radiant point in the constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky.

It is considered that this stream of matter, made up of pebbles instead of dust grains, is the largest in the inner solar system. Due to the stream’s size, the Earth takes several weeks to pass through it, causing an extended period of meteor activity, compared with the much smaller periods of activity in other showers.

The Taurids are commonly slow-moving meteors that blaze across the sky in pale orange colors. Typically, Taurids appear at a rate of about 7 per hour, moving slowly across the sky at about 27 km/s (17 mps ). Meteoroids the size of pebbles and small stones are producing a slow drizzle of very bright fireballs when entering Earth’s atmosphere. This year’s Taurid peak is expected during the nights of November 5-12.

You can start skywatching at mid-evening on November 4-5, before the waning gibbous moon rises over your eastern horizon. You can see planet Jupiter low in the east. It shines in front of the constellation Taurus, the part of the sky from which the meteors appear to radiate. The Southern Taurids will peak on November 5, while the Northern Taurids will reach peak rates on November 12. The next meteor shower is the Leonids on the night of November 17.

Comet Encke

Comet Encke is thought by some astronomers to be a piece of a larger comet that broke up 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. Comet Encke is believed to be the originator of several related meteor showers known as the Taurids (which are encountered as the Northern and Southern Taurids across November, and the Beta Taurids in late June and early July). Encke orbits the Sun every 3.3 years – the shortest period of any known comet. Given Encke’s low orbital inclination near the ecliptic and brief orbital period of 3 years, the orbit of Encke is frequently perturbed by the inner planets. The diameter of the nucleus of Encke’s Comet is 4.8 km.

On April 20, 2007, STEREO-A observed the tail of Comet 2P/Encke to be temporarily torn off by magnetic field disturbances caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME). The tail grew back due to the continuous shedding of dust and gas by the comet.

The origin of the Taurids was reexamined by Whipple and S. Hamid during 1950. They calculated the effects of secular perturbations by Jupiter on the orbital inclination and longitude of perihelion of nine photographic meteor orbits and found the orbital planes of four of the meteors to coincide with that of comet Encke 4700 years ago. Three other orbits coincided with one another, but not with comet Encke 1500 years ago. The authors theorized “that the Taurid streams were formed chiefly by a violent ejection of material from Encke’s Comet some 4700 years ago, but also by another ejection some 1500 years ago, from a body moving in an orbit of similar shape and longitude of perihelion but somewhat greater aphelion distance….” It was suggested that this unknown body had separated from Encke some time in the past.

Taurids

Czechoslovakian astronomer Ľubor Kresák gave a theory that mysterious Tunguska event of 1908 was in fact a fragment of Comet Encke. One theory considers that impacts of Taurid debris fragments may have been responsible for the Bronze Age collapse in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps evidenced by a large meteor crater in Iraq. Ancient people may have experienced Tunguska-type events, which occur approximately every 300 years as calculated by Eugene Shoemaker.

During the week ending November 4, 2005, the large number of fireballs seen all over the world led some to suggest UFO visitations. These fireballs may have been space junk or the Taurids.

Off-site articles pertaining to the Taurid Complex

Taurid Meteor Calendar

Meteor Showers Online

Meteor Live View

NASA All Sky Fireball Network /ASGARD

Meteor Counter app ( Apple and Android)

Featured image: A bright Taurid streaks across the southern Tennessee sky captured by a NASA meteor camera on November 7, 2011. (Credit: NASA All Sky Fireball Network)

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.

Share:

Related articles



Your support makes a difference

Dear valued reader,

We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.

The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.

If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.

Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Teo Blašković

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Clean user interface and fast browsing
  • Direct communication with us via chat and email
  • Suggest new features, content and applications
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us on Patreon

support us on patreon

or by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.

One Comment

  1. The 2005 shower was, I think, the one I stayed up all night to watch. There were thousand of meteorites which made incredible ‘exploding’ noises as they hit our ‘atmosphere’. Many left trails of smoke as they disintegrated. It was awesome to watch and I will never forget it. Unfortunately my old video camera at that time was useless in picking up the vision and sounds. (I’m in Melbourne, Australia).
    When I was a kid, we had a super powerful telescope. When I saw Saturn and all of it’s rings, I was gobsmacked. It was trully beautiful and will never forget it. Wish I still had that telescope.
    Cheers 😉

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *