NASA said to be on the lookout this weekend for possible fireballs from the Taurid meteor shower, which is expected to peak Saturday night.
The meteor shower is visible whenever the constellation Taurus is high in the sky. But there is an indication that this year’s peak could be even more spectacular. The constellation is generally high up in the night sky shortly after midnight this time of year.
“The annual Taurid meteor shower is going on right now, and we are seeing steady activity in our meteor cameras,” said Bill Cooke, lead for the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office. “Individuals should not be surprised if they see a bright meteor or fireball over the next few nights.”
Tuesday morning, astronomers captured one of these bright fireballs visible throughout the southern U.S.
“The bolide or fireball appeared some 44 miles above a point midway between the towns of Stanton and Mason, Tennessee and moved slightly north of east at a speed 3 times faster than that of the International Space Station,” Cooke said. “The fireball finally terminated above the town of Pinson, which is southeast of Jackson, Tenn.”
Some years, the meteor shower only produces a handful of visible meteors; some years, more can be visible.
NASA said the fireballs are created when the Earth runs into a group of pebble-sized fragments from a comet that then burn up in the atmosphere.