We may not get a full moon this year for Halloween, but we could get something even better: a meteor shower. According to reports, the annual Taurid meteor shower is set to appear on the holiday.
Per reports from spaceweather.com, the Taurid shower, also known as the Halloween fireballs, is more active every three to seven years. The last Taurid swarm was in 2015, making 2022 a prime candidate for more meteor showers coming into Earth’s atmosphere.
The Taurids are meteor showers visible from September 10 and November 20 every year. They peak in mid to late October. This year, the peak meteor activity is due on November 5. The shower gets its name because the meteors originate from the Taurus constellation.
Mark Gallaway, an astronomer and science educator at the University of Hertfordshire said: “Meteors are, normally, small particles of dust and grit floating in the solar system. As they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at typical speeds of 44 miles a second, they heat up by friction.”
He added: “They also heat the atmosphere, so much so that it makes the path they follow glow. It is this glow you see, as the meteor disintegrates, at something like 30 to 59 miles up. Larger objects, say the size of a pebble, will produce a bright meteor known as a fireball.”
In addition, the Taurids are two intersecting showers, with the meteors coming from two different locations.
Experts weigh in on upcoming Halloween meteor shower
“The comet responsible for the southern Taurids is called Encke,” said Sara Webb. Webb is an astrophysicist at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. “The northern Taurids are from the remnants of an asteroid named 2004 TG, which we think might have broken off Encke at some point.”
“They happen at the same time each year as the Earth moves around the sun,” said Christopher Conselice. He’s a professor of extragalactic astronomy at the University of Manchester, England.
He added: “Over the course of a year, the Earth travels in its orbit and around late October to December, [this] crosses the orbit of the debris left over from the destruction of the material that is gravitationally removed from comet Encke by interactions with other objects in our solar system.
“When we cross this material, some of it falls into the Earth and goes through our atmosphere,” he added. As a result, we see this as a meteor shower.
The reason that 2022 may have an increased number of fireballs is due to the Taurid swarm. The swarm occurs around every seven years.
“Within the stream of debris that makes up the Taurid meteor shower, there is a region where more debris (and more of the large debris) is concentrated together, essentially like a long sausage-shaped (or javelin-shaped) clump of debris in space,” Jonti Horner, an astrophysics professor at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia,said.