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More Taurid Fireballs Possible – Annual Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks

Posted on: 3:25 pm, November 12, 2012, by

More fireballs were seen across Alabama’s sky this weekend as the North Taurid Meteor Shower is in it’s peak, which will remain the most active source for meteors this week. According to the American Meteor Society the average rate of meteors per hour will be around five at best, but the slow movement of them allows their fireballs to last longer than most meteors that streak across the sky.  The Taurid Meteor Shower is an annual meteor shower that radiates from the constellation ‘Taurus the Bull’, hence it’s name, as Earth passes through debris from the comet Encke. This year is expected to be one of the better years in viewing fireballs. Through November 24th will be a good time to catch a Taurid fireball. The meteor shower does last through early December, but the frequency of meteors decreases significantly. Below is an image of a Taurid fireball taken by Bud Branch this past Saturday, November 10th, in Charlottesville, VA.

Taurid Meteor taken by Bud Branch in Charlottesville, VA. Source: http://spaceweather.com/gallery/indiv_upload.php?upload_id=73396.

As the Taurid Meteor Shower nears an end to the peak of it’s activity, the annual Leonid Meteor Shower that is currently going on right now, will ramp up by weeks end.  The Annual Leonid Meteor Shower is well known from it’s 1833 occurrence, where according to Dr. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center, there could of have been 100,000 meteors streaking across the North American sky per hour at its peak.  A Leonid Meteor Shower of that high of frequency per hour has not been seen since and was well noted in history and sparked the book “Stars Fell on Alabama” as well as several songs titled that as well. The Leonid Shower this year will have much lower hourly rates, around average for the meteor shower which are approximately 10-15 an hour.  There will be two peaks of the Annual Leonid Meteor Shower this year, more below courtesy of www.cbsnews.com.

“This year the Earth will cross the orbital plane of the comet on Saturday morning, Nov. 17. About 10 Leonids per hour might be observed during the predawn morning hours. Of greater interest will be to see what might happen when our planet passes through debris shed by the comet during a pass through the inner solar system back in the year 1400. That interaction might produce a somewhat higher hourly rate of around 15 per hour early on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 20.”

Besides possibly seeing a meteor streak across the sky as a bright fireball, a thin waxing crescent Moon will be just to the right of the planet Mars Thursday evening and will continue it’s passage past the giant red star during the following days.  Below is an image of the Moon passing by Mars, with specific dates signifying the Moon’s location at that time.

- Jennifer Watson

Twitter: @JWatson_Wx

Facebook: Jennifer Watson WHNT