Taurid Meteor Shower 2020

Taurid Meteor Shower 2020

28/10/2020Written by Malika Andress

In 2020, the Taurid meteor shower peaks between 10-11 November, with 5 to 10 meteors per hour.

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Taurid Fireballs

Taurid Fireballs
Taurid Fireballs
2015 Taurid fireball leaves a puff of dust. Credit: Adam Trenholm, via EarthSky.com

We’re spoiled for meteor showers this time of year. November has not one but three meteor showers throughout the month. This week, watch the skies for the Taurids, due to peak in the early mornings of the 10-11 November 2020.

Also in November, the Orionids continue after their peak last month and the Leonid meteor shower will peak in the early morning of the 17-18 November.

The Taurids are a minor meteor shower expected to produce about 5-10 meteors an hour. Unusually, these meteors come from not one but two streams of debris – dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10 and debris from Comet 2P Encke. As these dust grains hit Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, they heat up and disintegrate in flashes of light that we call meteors.

Despite the low numbers, the Taurids are worth staying up for. They’re known to produce the occasional ‘fireball‘, or exceptionally bright meteor, streaking across the sky. In 2020, the first quarter moon will set shortly before midnight, leaving the sky dark and perfect for meteor viewing.

How to Watch

Adapted from Stellarium

Adapted from Stellarium

The Taurids are named after the constellation Taurus the Bull as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. After midnight, you’ll find Taurus high above the southern sky. While the meteors appear to originate from Taurus, they are best seen 30 degrees away from origin, so be sure to keep careful watch across the whole sky.

To view the Taurids from the UK, head outside anytime after midnight. By this time, the Moon will have set and the sky will be dark.

You do not need to look in any particular direction. Lean back, let your eyes adjust to the dark, and watch the whole sky (it helps to have friends look in different directions).

The darker the location the better, so find the darkest sky you can away from city lights.

Look up, and keep an eye on the whole sky.

As always in the UK, clouds can be an issue, but be patient.

The Taurids don’t have a strong peak time, which means that there’s a good chance of seeing meteors on many different nights. So if it’s cloudy on the 10 November, you can always try again on a nearby day. The Taurids run annually between late October and early December.

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic
Credit: National Space Centre

Download our National Space Centre Meteor Shower Guide to make sure you are fully prepared to watch the Taurids!

Other upcoming meteor showers for 2020 include:

Leonids
Comet of Origin: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Leo
Peak Activity: 17/18 Nov 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Geminids
Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Peak Activity: 14/15 Dec 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour

Ursids
Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: 21/22 December 2020
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour

Clear skies!