June 7, 2020

Astro Event of the Week; November 3rd-9th: A Taurid Outburst?

Most years, the Taurid meteor shower doesn’t merit a second look; this minor shower radiating from the constellation Taurus the bull usually generates a maximum rate of less than five meteors per hour.

This season, however, there may be reason to brave the chill of predawn November; the Taurids have been purported to have picked up in recent years. Could an outburst be eminent? Hype not withstanding, your best bet is to look for yourself! The radiant will be riding high in the south during the early AM hours, and the waxing crescent Moon will be well placed out of the way. The predicted maximum is the morning of November 5th, but of course, an outburst could arrive a few days early or late. Good luck, and stay warm!

This weeks’ astro word of the week is radiant. In the field of meteor shower observing, the radiant is the point from which the meteor stream seems to “radiate” from. This is a result of our Earthly orbiting perspective, viewing the point that our orbit intersects the stream of debris usually left in the trail of a comet. An intense shower, such as the Leonids, can produce a discernable radiant, giving the impression of a car moving through a snow storm, or the Enterprise at warp! The position of the radiant in its respective constellation also gives the shower its name, hence the Geminds (Gemini), Lyrids (Lyra), Ursids, (Ursa Majoris), etc.

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