Taurids expected to be brightest in UK skies this weekend

Image copyright MEDIA SYNDICATION The “Northern Lights” will light up the UK skies this weekend, so it’s worth setting a little alarm clock. The “Taurid Meteor Shower” will reach its peak early Sunday (15…

Taurids expected to be brightest in UK skies this weekend

Image copyright MEDIA SYNDICATION

The “Northern Lights” will light up the UK skies this weekend, so it’s worth setting a little alarm clock.

The “Taurid Meteor Shower” will reach its peak early Sunday (15 March), at about 18:00 GMT, and it’s estimated to produce between 100 and 200 meteors every hour.

The Taurids tend to reach their peak this time of year, but a mild meteor shower called the Leonids last in late October or early November, so it might be worth trying to get the best view early next week.

The bright green-blue colours in the pictures are from visible-light photons of light, from a meteoroid (something that burns up in your eyes) passing through the atmosphere. The brightness of the green depends on its size, the velocity it’s travelling and whether it’s an “asteroid” or a comet.

Image copyright MediaSyndication Image caption The northern lights are caused by particles of the dust left over by Comet Encke

The Orionids this time of year, in early November, are not visible from the UK, so here’s what to look out for: the shooting stars come from the debris created when Comet Encke passes through the inner solar system.

Image copyright MediaSyndication Image caption The Taurids generally produce between 100 and 200 meteors per hour

Taurids typically produce between 50 and 100 meteors per hour, but with this year’s display an astronomer at the UK’s Royal Observatory Greenwich told BBC News there could be as many as 400 meteors per hour.

“The Taurids are moving about 50km/sec (almost 33,000 mph). Our fast car-like rockets move about 17 km/sec, so the meteors are moving almost as fast as a speeding missile,” he said.

Image copyright MediaSyndication Image caption Blue colours in the pictures are caused by visible-light photons of light, from a meteoroid (something that burns up in your eyes) passing through the atmosphere

Image copyright MediaSyndication Image caption The bright green-blue colours in the pictures are from visible-light photons of light, from a meteoroid (something that burns up in your eyes) passing through the atmosphere

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