This weekend and through November 24th should be a good time and try to view fireballs from the Taurid meteor shower. This meteor shower is not known for its strong rates as it usually only produces 5 meteors per hour at best. Rather this display is better known for the colorful fireballs it produces. The Taurids are active throughout October and November but are best seen in late October through mid-November when activity peaks. Taurid meteors may be seen all night long but are best seen near 1:00am local standard time, when the radiant lies highest in the sky. The radiant is the area of the sky in which the meteor seem to originate. At this time of year the radiant lies close to the naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, which is located in the constellation of Taurus. This cluster appears “dipper-shaped” and is ofter mistaken for the actual Little Dipper (Ursa Minor). Taurid meteors are slower than normal and may last several seconds rather than the normal fraction of a second seen for most meteors. These meteors are remnants of comet 2P/Encke and are though to produce higher rates of fireballs (swarms) in specific years. 2005 and 2008 produced both higher numbers of fireballs with the possibility of 2012 and 2015 also being better than normal years.
If you happen to see a very bright meteor, be certain to fill out a fireball report on the AMS website.
Experienced meteor observers are advised to take advantage of the “dark” of the moon and to observe for unusual activity. Be sure to let us know what you see!
American Meteor Society