The full blue moon on Halloween is not the only notable sky event this fall. Three annual meteor showers send fireballs shooting across the night sky in late October and November 2020 – including a shower that peaks this week.
Here’s a look at three upcoming meteor showers and what to expect.
Orionid meteor shower
When: The annual Orionid meteor shower began on October 2 and continues until November 7, but the best time to check out is during its peak period ̵
How active: Experts from the American Meteor Society say that the Orionid shower usually generates 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but some years it produces as many as 50 to 75 per hour – which increases its reputation as the best meteor shower in the fall season. Light from the moon, which will be slightly less than 25% full on the night of October 20, could keep the number of visible shooting stars on the underside this year.
Fun fact: The orionids are actually small pieces of dust and rock particles left behind by the famous Halley’s comet. Around this time each year, Earth passes through the comet’s dirt field so we can see these shooting stars.
Northern Taurid meteor showers
When: The northern Taurid meteor shower will be visible on October 20 and continue until December 10, according to AMS. Its highest period will be overnight on November 11 and early in the morning on November 12, when the moon will be about 15% full.
How active: This meteor shower usually generates only five to ten shooting stars per hour with the highest numbers in the darkest places. But astronomy experts say this shower is remarkable because it tends to produce bright fireballs. So this one is worth looking at for its quality rather than its quantity.
Fun fact: The Taurids got their name from the constellation Taurus.
Leonid meteor shower
When: The annual Leonid meteor shower begins to become visible on November 6 and continues through November 30. Highest period will be overnight from November 16 to November 17, when the moon is only 5% full.
How active: This meteor shower usually generates about 15 meteors per hour.
Fun fact: “The shower is called Leonider because its radiant or the point in the sky where the meteors appear to come from lies in the constellation Leo,” says TimeAndDate.com.
Look forward to
These are the best meteor showers to look for in December 2020:
- Geminid meteor shower, set to peak at night on December 13 in the morning of December 14.
- Ursid meteor shower, set to peak at night on December 21 in the morning of December 22.
Thank you for trusting us to deliver the journalism you can trust. Consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.
Len Melisurgo can be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.