Skywatch: A bright moon will wash out all but the brightest meteors this week

North Taurid Meteor Shower

If you’ve been seeing fireballs in the sky recently, there’s a reason.

A fireball is a particularly bright meteor that streaks across the sky. They’re synonymous with the South & North Taurid meteor showers. Both are active this time of year and the North Taurids are expected to peak early in the week on Tuesday morning.

Caused by debris from Comet Encke, you’re lucky to see five to seven meteors an hour but because they’re so bright, you get a special treat when you catch one.

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Sadly, the moon will be very bright at the beginning of the week (more on that in a second), so only the brightest meteors will be visible. I wouldn’t break your back to see them, but if you’re far enough from the city on Tuesday morning, look up and you may see a shooting star.

Full Beaver Moon

Speaking of the moon, it’ll be full on Tuesday morning at 8:34 a.m. Known as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time people would traditionally set beaver traps to get furs before the freeze and just in time for winter. It’s also known as the Full Frost Moon.

Look for Orion

If you’re out and about in the evenings, look up for an old friend and popular winter time constellation. Orion the Hunter is in the eastern sky in the middle of the evening. The three stars that make up Orion’s belt are hard to miss. The constellation will be high in the sky in the coming months.

The Leonid Meteor Shower

The moon will also hinder another meteor shower that peaks early next week. The Leonid’s radiant is near Leo the lion, which gives the meteor shower its name. A waning gibbous will obscure all but the brightest meteors and the show will be active until the end of the month.

We’ll talk about it more next week when it peaks but in the meantime, if you’re far enough away from the city lights, look to Leo in the coming nights and you might catch one. Happy hunting!