All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Watch the Skies

Bill Plaskon of Jonesport saw something unexpected while planet-gazing last Sunday evening. He was "observing Mars through a 10-inch telescope at 10:04 p.m. EST when a brilliant fireball lit up the sky and left a short corkscrew-like smoke trail that lasted about 1 minute."

NASA reports that several stunning fireballs have been reported in the last week, from Alberta to the Netherlands, and attributes them to the Taurid meteor shower.
Every year in late October and early November, [meteor expert David Asher] explains, Earth passes through a river of space dust associated with Comet Encke. Tiny grains hit our atmosphere at 65,000 mph. At that speed, even a tiny smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light--a meteor--when it disintegrates. Because these meteors shoot out of the constellation Taurus, they're called Taurids. [Link]
The shower should peak between Nov. 5th and Nov. 12th, and may be better than usual this year. Your best chance of seeing a fireball is toward midnight, when Taurus is nearly overhead.
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