Coming to a Night Sky Near You: The Taurid Meteor Shower!

  • Astronomy / Visitor ervices / November 2, 2023

  • By Cameron Schneider 

    When the night sky is stretched above us there is so much to see, even in the dark. Sometimes the dark gives the perfect stage for a special show you would not be able to see very well in the daytime. A few not-so-small examples are the moon and the stars. However, in early November an even more exciting show is coming to the night sky: the Taurid meteor shower!


    What is a Meteor Shower?  

    Meteor showers happen when the Earth passes through left over stuff like rocks from asteroids and comets. When these rocks enter the Earth’s atmosphere the air around them gets very hot. So, from Earth the rocks look like bright streaks of light across the sky. If you have ever seen a shooting star, then you know exactly what to look for!  

    During the Taurid meteor shower, the Earth is passing through a comet named Encke. Encke is a small comet that takes 3.3 years to travel around the sun, the shortest travel time of any known comet in our solar system! 


    Why is it Called the Taurid Meteor Shower? 

    Meteor showers get their names from the constellations that the meteors seem to be coming from. Constellations are a group of stars that sometimes look like the shapes of objects, animals, or people. For this shower, the meteors are coming from the direction of a constellation called Taurus, a group of stars that look like a bull, so it is called the Taurid meteor shower 


    When and Where Can I see it? 

    The Taurid meteor shower is a meteor shower that happens in two parts: the Southern Taurids and the Northern Taurids. These showers begin mid-October and go on up to early December. It is believed that you will be able to see the Northern Taurid stream best between November 12th and November 13th and the Southern Taurid stream around November 6th. 

    Just like a movie is best to watch in a dark theater, you want to make sure you are in the darkest possible place outside to see this meteor shower. This means you will want to be away from places like cities where all the lights make it more difficult to see the night sky entirely.  


    A One-of-a-Kind Show 

    There are so many interesting things in the night sky to see and learn about. The Taurid meteor shower is just one of the many examples of why sometimes the best show of all is right above our heads!