2015 Taurids

Although imagers can detect some Taurid outliers during September and October, Taurid activity only reaches a level obvious to visual observers during October and November. The shower has no sharp peak. Instead there is a broad maximum during the last week of October and the first ten days of November.

Observers also waited in anticipation to see how stronmg the returning Taurid “swarm” would prove to be. This had led to higher rates of bright Taurids on a number of earlier occasions, although the most recent return, in 2012, had proved disappointing.

Poor weather seriously hindered visual observations of the Taurids during October.

Oct 13  Fireball

Bill Ward¬†did however capture a video spectrum of a fireball at 00:09 GMT on Oct 13th. This may have been a southern Taurid – it was borderline between being classed as a Taurid or a Sporadic – possibly a “Taurid outlier”

The video has proved very interesting as in the later stages two separate spectra can be seen. One appears to be related to a flare that occurred late in the fireball ; the other is presumably from a surviving fragment.

Bill has produced these colourised synthetic versions of the spectra to illustrate the differences between the two (flare top, fragment bottom)

As can be seen, some emission lines were more prominent in the top spectrum and others were more prominent in the lower spectrum.

Oct 31 Fireball

This Taurid fireball at 22:28 GMT on October 31st was imaged by Richard Fleet (Wilcot, Hants).

Richard has also posted a video on Flickr, showing the fireball at normal speed and then at half speed.

Many parts of the UK were hidden under a thick bank of fog at the time.

However, the fireball was also imaged by four cameras of the NEMETODE network (http://www.nemetode.org/ ). Triangulation of the four images showed the fireball to have been travelling in a northwesterly direction over the East Midlands.

Images of the fireball can also be seen on images captured by the all-sky cameras of the Univ of Herts at Bayfordbury and Hemel.

Visual Observations

Although images are impressive, studies of Taurid rates are dependent on meteor watches carried out by visual observers.

Alastair McBeath (Morpeth) was very active in this respect. He was able to carry out short meteor watches during Nov 1-2 and 2-3 and was then able to make excellent use of clear spells to carry out six meteor watches during eight nights between the nights of Nov 6-7 and Nov 13-14. His results for these six latter nights are summarised below:

Nov 6-7:       17 Taurids (13N, 4S), 1 Orionid  and 34 sporadics in 4.5 hours,  Av LM 5.51.

Nov 7-8:       19 Taurids (15N, 4S),  2 Orionids,  2 Leonids  and 28 sporadics in 3 hours,  Av LM 5.88.

Nov 8-9:       13 Taurids (12N, 1S)  and 28 sporadics in  2 hours ,  Av LM  6.10.

Nov 11-12:    8 Taurids  (8N, 0S)  and 12 sporadics  in 1.67 hours,  Av LM  5.83.

Nov 12-13:   13 Taurids  (11N, 2S) , 1 Leonid  and 20 sporadics  in  2 hours,  Av LM  5.88.

Nov 13-14:     3 Taurids (3N, 0S)  and 12 sporadics  in 1 hour,  Av LM  6.23.

As can be seen, by this stage in the shower the northern branch of the Taurids had become dominant over the southern branch (which tends to be the more active during October).

Alastair’s impression was that Taurid rates in early November were slightly elevated compared with those in previous ‘swarm’ years, but that this seemed to be mostly due to a higher number of fainter Taurids. His ‘best’ Taurid was a¬†mag -5/-7 event at 02:06 GMT on Nov 7¬†that travelled from Canis Minor to western Hydra. This was yellow-green in colour and left a train that persisted for 9 seconds. Alastair notes however that he didn’t see the meteor directly – only seeing the flares from it light up the sky background and then seeing the train afterwards.

Alastair also noted another event at¬†01:28:50 GMT on Nov 7. On this occasion, he didn’t see the meteor or any train, only being aware of a brilliant, possibly green, flaring light lasting 2-3 seconds low in the eastern/northeastern sky (behind him). Interestingly, there were several posts on Twitter of images showing a fireball seen in the northern sky from Aberdeenshire at this time. However, that event would have been too far north to have been visible from Morpeth.

Richard Colclough (Packmoor, Staffs) was also able to observe on one night, seeing 1 Taurid-N and 1 sporadic in 1 hour (LM 5) during the night of Nov 7-8.


Further Taurid reports

Additional Taurid reports can be seen via the SPA Forum, the Meteorobs Forum and the UK Weatherworld Space Weather Forum .


Additional Taurid images

The images shown below were captured by¬†Paul Sutherland¬†and¬†Richard Fleet. Paul’s image on the left shows a Taurid below Coma (the cluster of stars at the top of the image), on Nov 9. ¬†Richard’s image on the right shows a Taurid that has passed through Gemini at 00:41 GMT on Nov 13 – Procyon is the bright star on the right hand side.


Late in the month, Richard also captured images of two more bright Taurids.

The image on the left shows a Taurid captured low in the sky at 21:28 GMT on Nov 27 by his west facing video camera. In his Twitter post, Richard coments that it was 300 km from Cornwall and 600 km from his location in Wilcot.

The image on the right shows a Taurid captured just a few minutes later by his north west facing video camera.