The meteor shower of the Northern Taurus reaches its highest activity tonight, only three days before an almost 800 foot wide asteroid passes the earth.
The meteor shower reaches its peak during the night of November 11th to November 12th, although according to the American Meteor Society it will remain active until December 10th.
During this night the waning lunar crescent will be only 15 percent full, so observational conditions in the relatively low moonlight should be favorable, depending on the weather you are experiencing.
The northern taurid shower overlaps with its sister shower, the southern taurid shower, which is active between September 10 and November 20. Both are known to produce a relatively high percentage of fireballs – essentially very bright meteorites – when they coincide at this time of year.
In both showers this fireball activity seems to be remarkably high every seven years. The last extremely active year for fireballs was 2015, but the number that occurs each year is not predictable.
The northern tauride shower tends not to produce a very strong peak, so it will probably not be possible to see more than five meteors per hour, although some southern tauride meteors may also be visible, EarthSky reported.
The best time to observe the northern taurid shower is in the hours around midnight. During this time the point from which the meteors appear to originate – the so-called radiant – will be high in the sky, far above the horizon.
The radiant of the northern bullshower is located in the constellation of Taurus, near the Pleiades cluster. However, you don’t have to look into this region to see the meteors, as they will be streaking across all parts of the sky.
The best visibility conditions are obtained when you move to an area away from light pollution and where you have a clear view of the sky. You don’t need any special equipment to see the meteors, but it may be worth bringing a deck chair as it may take some time before you discover a meteorite.
The climax of the North Staurid shower comes only a few days before a large space rock called 2020 ST1 is supposed to fly past the earth.
The asteroid will approach on November 14 at 3:45 ET – at that time it will be just over 4.5 million miles away from Earth and traveling at about 18,000 miles per hour, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.
The diameter of the object is estimated to be up to 787 feet, which is slightly higher than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Fortunately, astronomers know the orbit of this asteroid well, so there is no chance that it will hit Earth in the foreseeable future. But if a space rock of this size were to collide with our planet, it could wreak widespread havoc….