Fireball Alert: No, not “that” Fireball! Look up in the Jupiter evening sky tonight to hopefully, witness a celestial fireball. November is a busy month for the night sky. A fireball is an alternative term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the brightest planet, Venus, in the morning or evening sky. Then there is a bolide. That is a distinct type of fireball which explodes in a bright flash when it reaches the atmosphere, usually with visible disintegration.
The Taurid meteor shower happens this week, and it can be “bold in its showmanship”. The Taurid meteor is known for cutting through dark night skies with brilliant, long-lasting fireballs. All Taurids are debris from the Comet Encke, which is named for the German astronomer Johan Franz Encke, who discovered it in 1786. The chunks of rock, ice and dust left behind from Comet Encke in its three-year orbit around the sun is what accounts for its fireball-throwing reputation.
The Taurid shower is broken into two streams, the North Taurids and the South Taurids, which are known as the Taurid Complex. Both branches of the Taurids are abundant in fireballs and are often responsible for increased number of fireball reports.
The American Meteor Society notes that there could be an uptick in meteors tonight through Sunday. Check it out.