The South Taurid meteor shower kicks off in earnest tonight — while the South Taurids certainly aren’t the most prolific meteor shower of the year, they do seem to regularly produce large fireballs. So they’re worth the time, in my opinion.
The best time to watch will be tonight around 1 am (early Tuesday morning). Around that time you can typically expect to see somewhere around 5-10 meteors an hour — the peak this year is expected to be right around that number. While the numbers aren’t great with the Taurids, they are actually rather interesting to watch, thanks to their relatively slow speeds, and their tendency to produce super-bright fireballs.
As far as where to watch — the Taurids will appear to be originating from the the constellation of Taurus, in the southeastern portion of the night’s sky. The Taurids are only really visible to those in the Northern Hemisphere — those in the Southern Hemisphere might see a spare one or two, but the show just isn’t that great for those in the other hemisphere.
Something else to note — since both the Moon and Venus will set before the meteor shower begins tonight, the night’s sky will be good and dark. Perfect meteor watching conditions 🙂
If you miss the South Taurids tonight or tomorrow night, though, don’t worry, because the North Taurids will peak only about a week from now. Since the Moon will be in a relatively bright phase by that point, though, they will be harder to spot than the South Taurids will be.
For information on the other great meteor showers of the year, including the upcoming Leonids, see: Meteor Showers 2013, Dates and Times, Geminids, Leonids, Perseids, Taurids, Ursids, Etc.
Some general tips for those that will be watching tonight:
• Find the darkest sky that you can, preferably far from city lights — dark, rural locations are ideal.
• Get comfortable — a reclining chair, warm clothes, blankets, pillows, etc.
• A cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate tends to make the experience more enjoyable.
Image Credit: Taurid via Flickr CC