(CNN) — Dazzling fireballs will light up the night sky in the coming days, making it a great time to grab a lawn chair and gaze at the stars.
The Northern Taurid meteor showers have been spotted in the sky since October, but the annual shower will peak on November 11 and 12, according to the American Meteor Society. The Northern Taurids are visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
During this time, Earth will be going through the densest part of the debris stream of comet 2P/Encke, the celestial body giving rise to the Northern Taurid showers, according to Bill Cooke Jr., who heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.
Stargazers can expect to see about five fireballs per hour during those peak nights, Cooke said. Despite the fiery name, fireballs are perfectly safe to view and will not hurt anyone.
Fireballs are meteors that shine brighter than the planet Venus, which is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon, Cooke said. They tend to last for about a second or two, compared to the average meteor, which tends to last less than half a second, said Robert Lunsford, the meteor society’s fireball report coordinator.
While stargazing in the 1980s, Lunsford said he saw a fireball from the Taurid meteor showers, and it was like a full moon had appeared.
“I remember sitting at my telescope, and the ground just lit up,” Lunsford said. “I looked up fast enough to see the meteor shoot by.”
Cooke currently relies on NASA’s extensive camera system to see Taurid meteors, but when he was younger, he caught a glimpse of one while trick-or-treating.
“I was 13 so I was an obnoxious little teenager, and I saw a very bright Taurid fireball, and I thought that was a really cool thing to happen on Halloween,” Cooke said.
November is a great month for stargazing, so be sure to make sure to mark these 3 events on your calendar: https://t.co/CsXc8ePOLb
Nov. 11-12: Northern Taurid meteor shower ☄️
Nov. 16-17: Leonid meteor shower ☄️
Nov. 30: Penumbral lunar eclipse ☀️ 🌎 🌗 pic.twitter.com/m3h3o8wJmJ
— AccuWeatherAstronomy (@AccuAstronomy) November 2, 2020
The Southern Taurid meteor shower, which started in September and overlap with the Northern Taurids, also originates from Comet 2P/Encke. It peaked on October 29 and 30, according to AMS.
The Northern Taurid meteors streak across the sky at 18 miles per second, according to AMS, and that’s slower than the average meteor.
The best time to view the meteor shower will be after midnight in your local time zone, according to Cooke. Light pollution from cities can make it difficult to see, so head to a place with little to no artificial lights.
The brightness of the moon can also affect meteor shower visibility. Fortunately, the moon will only be 15% visible during the peak times, according to AMS.
Although the Northern Taurids meteor shower peaks mid-November this year, the shower will continue through December 10. If you miss the Taurid meteor showers, not to worry: The Geminids meteor shower will be peaking mid-December.
“This year, the Geminids are going to be great because there’s going to be no moon around to spoil the show,” Cooke said.
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