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Halloween meteors visible this week: what you need to know

In the next few nights, meteor showers will be visible from Earth, NASA astronomers say.

In the next few nights, meteor showers will be visible from Earth, NASA astronomers say.

Courtesy of NASA Meteor Watch.

You may see fireballs in the sky this week. The “halloween meteors” returned for the first time since 2015, according to NASA astronomers.

Tens of thousands of years ago, a large comet broke up, creating a stream of cometary debris, according to a NASA Meteor Watch Facebook post. Every year, around this time, the Earth spends a couple of months passing through this vast stream.

At this time, astronomers and skywatchers usually like to watch the Taurid meteor shower, which is a “low activity” shower, so only a few meteors cross the sky per hour. Usually only a few Taurids are visible from Earth, astronomers said, but when they can be seen, they are “bright and prominent.”

The orbits of the Taurid meteors are determined by the gravity of other planets in our solar system, mainly Jupiter. According to NASA, after a few years, changes in these orbits cause an increase in the number of Taurids that are close to and visible from Earth. This change results in the “Taurid Swarm” where the number of visible bolides jumps and can be seen by almost everyone.

This year, the Earth is waiting for the Taurid swarm. These meteor showers were last seen in 2015, and astronomers say they won’t return until 2032.

The increase in activity usually occurs during the last week of October and the first week of November, which is why the Taurid swarms are also known as “Halloween meteors”.

NASA stated in a blog post in 2015 that “The best time to find the Taurids it is after midnight, when Taurus is high in the sky, and when the sky is dark and clear, with no moonlight to mask the fainter meteors.’

“When you’re out trick or treating, watch the sky – you might just see a fireball overhead!” – said the astronomers.

Moira Ritter covers the news in real time for McClatchy. She graduated from Georgetown University, where she studied management, journalism and German. She previously reported for CNN Business.


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