UAE: 'Fireball', meteor showers to light up night sky this month; how to watch

People can spend two nights under the stars as the Taurids meteor, also known as the 'Halloween fireball,' will produce its peak rate of meteors on these days

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 1 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 2:37 PM

Skygazers in the UAE can indulge in a celestial spectacle on November 6 and then again on November 13 as they will get an opportunity to witness the splendour of the cosmos not once, but twice.

People can spend two nights under the stars as the Taurids meteor also known as the “Halloween fireball” will produce its peak rate of meteors on these days.

That’s because experts explain this meteor shower is composed of two streams, the North and South Taurids, from different parts of the comet's tail.

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Taurids are rich in fireballs

According to space.com, that quoted NASA meteor expert, Bill Cooke, “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. It’s simply the fact that when a Taurid appears it’s usually big and bright.”

As per NASA, Orionids usually burn up at altitudes approximately 58 miles (93 km) above the Earth, while Taurids manage to reach around 42 miles (66 km). Their speed is comparatively slow, moving across the sky at a rate of about 17 miles (27 kilometers) per second or 65,000 miles (104,000 km) per hour.

In contrast, the Perseids race through the sky at 37 miles (59 km) per second.

“The shower is active from late September to early December, but best viewed during peak activity in mid-November,” explains Sarath Raj,Project Director, Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat, Amity University Dubai. “Taurid meteor shower is ancient, produced by debris from Comet 2P/Encke, which orbits the sun every 3.3 years.”

Observed from almost any location

These meteor showers can be observed from almost any location on Earth, except for the South Pole.

Meteor showers are named based on the constellation from which the meteors seem to originate, called the radiant.

From our perspective on Earth, the Taurid meteor shower seems to originate approximately from the direction of the Taurus constellation.

“The Taurid meteor shower, with a maximum zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of five, implies that an observer under ideal conditions could witness up to five meteors per hour during its peak activity.”

Raj continued, “The icy and dusty debris of Comet 2P/Enke stream is so large and spread out that it takes Earth a long time to pass through it all, which is why we experience two separate parts of the shower: the Northern Taurids and the Southern Taurids.”

“The South Taurids will peak on November 6, 2023, at 4:47 a.m., and the North Taurids will peak on November 13, 2023, at 4:21 a.m. Given its magnitude, Comet 2P/Encke is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but it can be observed with a telescope having an aperture of 14 inches (350mm) or more.”

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