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It's Rainin' Rocks! Hallelujah, It's Rainin' Rocks!

November will bring several sets of meteor showers to Earth. Or, more accurately, Earth will travel through several sets of space rocks during November. The Southern and Northern Taurids, the Leonids (spoiler alert - scroll right down to the Leonids if you're looking for the main event only), the Alpha Monocerotids and the November Orionids. Each, so named for the constellation from which the meteors appear to derive. This is somewhat misleading because, again, it isn't so much that the rocks are flying at Earth as much as the Earth is flying at them. These "shooting stars" are normally small rocks; even a grain of sand-sized rock has enough potential energy and can burn hot enough, when it meets the friction of our atmosphere, for us to see from the ground as it burns up. <Author's note - Try as I did to make that last sentence shorter, I, alas, could not. I blame my love for Jules Verne and my penchant for writing while tipsy (WWT). Sue me>. Here are the deets :)


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Nov 4-5 (peak) - Southern Taurids: This meteor shower already had one peak earlier in October. But another peak is approaching. That's not to say you won't potentially catch a few before the 4th and 5th or after until roughly the 20th. This considered a moderate meteor shower event with a ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) of 7. That means during its highest moment of activity, with optimal viewing conditions, you could expect to see 7 meteors per hour. They are associated with the comet 2P/Encke. These meteors are typically slow moving, but also very bright at times, which is a good combo for photography. Unfortunately, moon illumination will be at 52% and we'll be at Last Quarter Moon phase, so as the moon rises at midnight, it'll be a major hinderance to our ability to view. Wishing you luck, like the photo of the Southern Taurids below, but plan to roll your dice before the clock strikes 12.






Nov 11-12 (peak) - Northern Taurids: Not quite as "moderate" as the Southerns, these are actually fairly weak meteors, wah wahhhh. With a ZHR of 5, you'll have to be patient. But hey! It's a virtue!! Just pack a cold beverage (by cold, I mean hot) and test out that new ski suit, because it'll be slim pickings. Active from Nov 20- Dec 10, best viewing will be after midnight when the constellation Taurus is in its highest point. The good news is, Moon illumination will only be 1%, so what there is to see will be... seeable. The source background is cool though. They come from an asteroid called 2004 TG10. This asteroid once belonged to a bigger object dubbed the Encke Complex. Scientists think, Encke Complex broke up ~20,000 years ago creating the comet Encke as well as a bunch of debris in the form of asteroids and rock clouds.





Nov 17-18 (peak) - Leonids: The best meteor shower of November. We have a waxing crescent moon which is also ideal timing-wise as it won't interfere, so the 29% Moon illumination is not a factor. Its ZHR is 10 and it's viewable from everywhere. These bad boys are rare. The last Leonids were in 2002 and they occur on average every 33 years. The set we travelled through in 1966 produced thousands of meteors per hour making it one of the most generous meteor showers we can experience. They're associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle which is the reason for its infrequency. I'm kinda geeking out about the possibility we have clear skies for at least one night during the peak because I'm sure even my little kids who don't seem to understand the whole "look where I'm pointing!!" thing yet will be sure to catch one or two on their own. These will be active form Nov 6-30 and, obviously they'll be most radiant in the direction of the constellation Leo... but look all over. But maybe consider coffee or clothespins for your eyes, because if you blink, you'll miss one. They're just about as fast as meteors get, hitting our atmosphere at 44 miles per SECOND. Look forward to this one and look for a follow up post too :)




Nov 21-22 (peak) - Alpha Monocerotids: This event is weak this year unforch. The moon conditions this year are knaaat ideal either, so if you're planning a big Alpha Monocerotids party, is it possible to move it Nove 17 or 18 for the Leonids?? Or is Gary already having a party then?? Gary's the worst. But you know what? You can just talk about what you WOULD be seeing if it was a good year and the Moon wasn't washing out the view! It's in the direction of Monoceros and scientists think likely comes from an unknown long-range comet that comes around the mountain once every 500 years or so. 1995 was a big year for the AMs when 1,000+ meteors could be seen per hour. Keep this one in mind for the future.





Nov 27-28 (peak) - November Orionids: Full Moon during peak... ZHR of 3... yeah... How bout those Leonids earlier in the month!! It's thought that the parent body of this this meteor shower broke up and disintegrated long, long ago, which is actually pretty of cool in its own way. There is other research that suggests it came from a comet known as C/1917 F1. Either way, it doesn't make much of a viewing spectacular, but if you're like me, you still want to know about it :)





Overall, when it comes to meteor activity, the 800 lb gorilla in the room which is the month of November, 2023 is the Leonids for the 6th - 30th, peaking at the 17th and 18th. If you see something, drop a comment! Or reach out with comments or questions whenever you you want... there's only like 10 people reading this at this point. :)


Ps - also launch suggestions on content. There's a lot in the works for the near future, but all ideas welcome!


Shooting Stars,


Davey

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