Taurid meteor shower to light up the skies

Meteor shower to light up the skies

Sky gazers are in for a light show as an extremely active meteor shower peaks Wednesday night.

Shooting stars and fireballs from the Northern Taurid meteor showers peak around midnight, according to the American Meteor Society.

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The Southern Taurids, which already peaked but are still active through Nov. 20, will contribute to the light display. The Northern Taurids shower start a little later and is active through Dec. 10.

The Taurid meteor shower is caused as Earth passes through a stream of debris created by Comet Encke. The comet, first seen in 1786, orbits the sun about every 3.3 years, according to NASA. In the 1800s, Johann Franz Encke calculated its orbit to first recognize it as a periodic comet.

“The dust associated with the comet hits the Earth’s atmosphere at 65,000 mph and burns up, creating the Taurid meteor shower,” NASA said.

The showers are usually active simultaneously every seven years. They were last active together in 2008 and 2015. Its next outburst display is expected to be in 2022.

For best viewing, travel to where there are few lights and look up. A comet or fireball should be able to be seen at least once an hour.

“The Taurids are rich in fireballs, so if you see a Taurid it can be very brilliant and it’ll knock your eyes out, but their rates absolutely suck,” Bill Cooke, a NASA meteor expert, told Space.com.