The full blue moon on Halloween is not the only notable event in the sky this fall. Three annual meteor showers will send fireballs across the night sky in late October and November 2020, including one downpour that will peak 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 lasts until November 7, but the best time to test it is the peak ̵1; at night on Tuesday, October 20, before dawn on Wednesday, October. 21.
How active are: Experts from the American Meteor Society say that an Orionid downpour usually generates 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but in some years it produces 50 to 75 per hour, boosting its reputation as the best meteor shower of the fall season. Light from the moon, which will be slightly less than 25% filled on the night of October 20, may keep the number of visible shooting stars on the underside of this year.
Funny fact: Orionids are actually tiny bits of dust and rock particles left behind by the famous Halley’s Comet. At about this time each year, the Earth passes through a comet’s debris field, allowing us to see these shooting stars.
Meteor shower of the Northern Tauride
When: The meteor shower of the Northern Tauride will be visible on October 20 and will last until December 10, according to AMS. Its peak period will be on the night of November 11 in the early morning of November 12, when the moon will be filled by about 15%.
How active are: This meteor shower usually generates only five to 10 shooting stars per hour, with the largest numbers in the darkest places. But astronomy experts say the shower is notable for its tendency to produce bright fireballs. Therefore, it is worth monitoring its quality, not quantity.
Funny fact: The Taurids got their name from the constellation Taurus.
Leonid meteor shower
When: Leonid’s annual meteor shower will become visible on November 6 and will last until November 30. Its peak will be the night hours from 16 to 17 November, when the moon will be filled by only 5%.
How active are: This meteor shower usually generates about 15 meteors per hour.
Funny fact: “The downpour is called the Leonids because its radiance, or point in the sky where meteors seem to come from, lies in the constellation of Leo,” says TimeAndDate.com.
These are the best meteor showers to look for in December 2020:
- Geminid meteor shower, which peaked on the night of December 13 to the morning of December 14.
- Ursida meteor shower, which peaked on the night of December 21-22 in the morning.
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Len Melisurgo can be obtained at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.