Taurid Meteor Shower 2019 Set to Peak This Week: Here's When and How to Watch

Get your telescope at the ready. The Taurid meteor showers—also known as the 'Halloween fireballs'—start in October and do not finish until December, but they are expected to peak over the next few days.

Each year, the Taurids peak between the final week of October and first week of November. This year, it is expected to fall over the next few days with November 6 and November 12 highlighted as dates to watch, according to EarthSky.

November 4 and November 5 are supposed to be good too. However, peak might be a misleading term because unlike some meteor showers, there isn't a huge increase in meteors on peak night.

When it comes to the Taurids, it's quality over quantity. There are just five to ten meteors each hour during its peak compared to, for example, the Quadrantids, which has up to 110 meteors each hour—and that's provided the sky is moonless and the location is rural.

However, this is at least partially made up for by their brilliance. The Taurids are fireballs, meaning they shine as bright or brighter than Venus.

They last longer too. Although the Taruids travel at impressive speeds of 65 miles per hour, they are relatively slow in comparison to other meteor showers. According to the American Meteor Society, meteors can enter the planet's atmosphere at speeds of 25,000 mph to 160,000 mph.

This combined with larger explosions (and larger size) means they can persist in the sky for longer periods of time—frequently lasting up to a second rather than merely sub-seconds.

taurus constellation
The Taurids travel from the constellation of Taurus the Bull and Orion (pictured) from October to December. They are expected to peak this week. James Thornhill © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty

Interestingly, while they travel from the same point, the Taurids have two streams and can be split into the Northern Taurids and the Southern Taurids, with the latter being the more spectacular of the two.

The Southern Taurids have three "shallow peaks," the American Meteor Society explains. One near October 10, another near November 1 and the final peak near November 15. The Northern Taurids has just the one, near November 3. It is during the double peak in early November that the Taurids are at their best.

If you are watching from the Northern Hemisphere, the Taurids can be seen all through the night but the best time of day for stargazing is the hour between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. local time—when the radiant is at its highest.

The radiant (or point) that both streams of Taurids appear to travel from (and hence their name) is the constellation of Taurus, but the meteor show can be seen right across the sky.

Encke
Johann Franz Encke, the 19th century German astronomer who determined the comet's orbit. It has since been known as Encke's comet. Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty

The Taurids are produced by debris discarded by the comet P1/Encke—the comet with the shortest known orbital period with it taking just 3.3 years to make a trip around the Sun. While it is a rather measly comet with a nucleus that is under 3 miles in diameter, astronomers believe it may once have belonged to a larger comet, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.

Encke is named for Johann Franz Encke, the man who first calculated its orbit in the nineteenth century, as opposed to Pierre F. A. Mechain, who discovered it on January 17, 1786.

The comet is also responsible for the Beta Taurids in June, when its orbit approaches Earth's. However, these meteors are almost impossible to see because Taurus' positioning is too close to the Sun.

Viewing tips

To get the most of your experience, try to find a quiet spot away from the city lights. Make yourself comfortable and give yourself time to adjust to the darkness. The best time for viewing is between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., when the radiant is at its height.

Taurid Meteor Shower 2019 Set to Peak This Week: Here's When and How to Watch | Tech & Science