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Wed, 08 Oct 2014 - When do the Taurids peak?

The northern and southern radiants of the Taurid meteor shower provide a steady background of meteors during the autumn months. From reasonably dark observing sites, the observed rates from each radiant can often reach several meteors per hour. Some Taurid meteors will be seen during Orionid meteor watches in October and during Leonid meteor watches in November.
 
However, when do the Taurid rates peak ?
A Northern Taurid fireball imaged by William Stewart from Ravensmoor, Cheshire on 2012 Nov 8.
 
It depends on which meteor shower listing you read. Some state that the southern Taurids peak as early as October 10 (when the radiant is actually in the Pisces/Cetus area). Others state that they don't start until around the time of Orionid maximum (Oct 20-23) and, along with the northern Taurids, peak in early November. 
 
Which of these scenarios is correct?
 
In reality, the Taurids do not have sharp peaks like those seen from the Quadrantids or from the Perseids. Instead, they show a rather broad peak lasting for several weeks, during which there will be many ups and downs. Arbitrarily, defining one of these “ups” as the maximum date for the shower can be very misleading, especially if this is then picked up and quoted by the author of a Sky Diary column or an Astronomy Yearplanner. Readers of these might incorrectly assume that Taurid rates will be much lower a week before or after this supposed maximum date. 
 
It is better to simply say that Taurid activity is evident through most of October and November and that the best rates will be seen on those nights between mid October and mid November when the Moon is absent. On any given night, the best Taurid rates are usually seen around the middle of the night.
 
Defining the start and end dates is also difficult.
 
The start and end dates in this chart showing the radiant motions are based on the dates listed in the IMO calendar. Other sources start the northern Taurids earlier and list the southern Taurids until late November.
 
The Taurid parent comet 2P/Encke, has laid down a large number of dust trails that are encountered from mid September to early December each year. Deciding whether to allocate all of these dust trails to the Taurids or whether to allocate some to other minor showers can be fairly arbitrary
 
Additional information about the Taurid meteor shower can be found at:
http://www.popastro.com/meteor/activity/activity.php?id_pag=232
 

Added by: Tracie Heywood