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ATLANTA — If you missed the peak of South Taurids last week, the North Taurid meteor shower will shine this Thursday and Friday, potentially producing a few of its signature fireballs, potentially visible in parts of central and southern Utah.
The Taurids bring slow and steady streams from September to December. The peaks aren't as eventful and defined as some other meteor showers, such as the Perseids in August, according to EarthSky. But the Taurids are known for the occasional fireball, which is a meteor that shines more vibrantly than Venus, the brightest object in the sky.
North Taurid meteor showers produce about five visible meteors per hour at a relatively slow speed.
North and South Taurids have slightly different streams in the sky, but both appear to emerge from the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull, which the showers are named after. Debris from the Comet 2P/Encke produces both North and South Taurid showers, according to EarthSky.
When to look up at the night sky
Midnight to dawn is the optimal viewing time for the North Taurids, and they are visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
Don't bother using a telescope because it would limit your view of the sky. The naked eye is the best instrument to track these shooting stars. The meteor shower will be sporadic, so grab a lawn chair and plan on sitting outside for a while.
For the best view, try to find a spot without much light pollution. The moon will be about half full during the North Taurids' peak this year, which isn't as optimal as a new moon (when the sky is darker), but you could still catch a glimpse of the meteors.
Year-end celestial forecast
There are only a handful more meteor showers this year, according to EarthSky's 2021 meteor shower guide:
- November 17: Leonids
- December 13-14: Geminids
- December 22: Ursids
A partial eclipse of the moon will be visible for residents in North America and Hawaii on Nov. 19 between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.
The southern part of the globe can catch a glimpse of a total eclipse of the sun on December 4. Skywatchers in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will have the best shot at seeing it.