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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:15 pm 
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As predicted in advance by David Asher, the Earth currently does indeed seem to be encountering a fresh return of the "swarm" of more, often somewhat larger, Taurid particles than normal. The International Meteor Organization's 2015 Meteor Shower Calendar (direct-download PDF link here) has details - see pages 12-13 of the PDF booklet.

The headline news has concentrated on some of the fireballs observed from the event so far. See for example those on the Spaceweather.com page for October 30 (an unusual 12 Southern Taurid fireballs were imaged by the NASA all-sky cameras on Oct 30 alone), 31 and November 1; an especially impressive magnitude -13 or so event over Poland reported to the IMO from around 18:05 UT on October 31 (preliminary trajectory and videos here); plus another Taurid fireball imaged from the UK again on October 31, at 22:28 UT as noted among the recent SPA fireball reports here.

However, visual observers reporting their initial comments to Meteorobs - look for the "Taurid" reports among the late October to early November messages off the list archive page here) are already suggesting counts of "typical" brightness-range Taurids are also somewhat above normal for this time of year, which has been a feature of other Taurid "swarm" returns as well.

We're never quite sure how such "swarms" may manifest, nor how long they might continue - the best of the more recent events, in 2005, produced increased bright Taurid rates, including more fireballs than normal, from Oct 29 to Nov 10, for instance - so it could be worth keeping an eye out for the next ten days or so at least, just in case. Don't expect greatly increased meteor rates from the shower though. Even at their better past "swarm" returns, Zenithal Hourly Rates, ZHRs, have tended to be no higher than 10-15 (the usual maximum level around October 10, and again near November 12, is about 5). But equally, don't be too startled if you should chance to see a slow-moving Taurid fireball in the coming nights, so you'll remember to report it as fully as possible soon afterwards - the SPA Fireball Report Forms can be found here.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:49 pm 
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White flash 2015 Oct 31 24hr 10m 40sec +- 45sec.
Behind near top of 100ft conifer? Point source? or just part seen.
Az.008 deg. elev 11 deg. London.
mag minus 3 or brighter.
Aircraft, fireball?
Sky clear?

Regards, David

P.S.
Could have been a firework, but no noise and white, no colour.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:38 pm 
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Hi David. Can you clarify the timing for your sighting please? Oct 31, 24h10m would suggest it was actually at November 1, 00:10 UT, but might instead mean Oct 31, 00:10 UT.

Without more information or other reports, it'll be difficult to say exactly what you may have seen. If it'd been a Taurid meteor, I'd have expected a longer path so low to the north, but sky conditions, or the fact you only caught the very end, might count against that.

Conditions here in NE England were very poor last night (Nov 1-2), but in a short clearer spell (LM +5.0 only unfortunately, with some mist and thin cloud) around 18:20-18:35 UT, I spotted a solitary mag +3 Northern Taurid and a +4 sporadic in just casual sky-gazing. Seeing a Taurid so early in the night, while the radiant was very low, is rather unusual, which suggests rates could have been still somewhat above normal. Or I could just have been lucky! Spaceweather.com reported 10 Northern Taurid fireballs were captured by the NASA cameras on November 1, which certainly implies the enhanced Taurid presence remained then, at least.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:17 pm 
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Some clearer spells yesterday evening (Nov 2-3), though mist and haze reduced the sky's limiting magnitude quite considerably. Even so, in a twenty-minute sky-gazing session, LM averaging +5.25, I saw three sporadics and a lone Southern Taurid, between 19:53 and 20:13 UT. The Taurid happened while the radiant was still very low, and it was a glorious mag -2 event, orange-yellow in colour, with several flares and fades along its extended path between Perseus and Draco, so was well worth spotting! The Spaceweather.com NASA fireball camera notes gave 14 Northern Taurid fireballs as recorded on November 2 over the States, which again suggests the "swarm" was likely continuing.

I'd hoped to try a formal meteor watch later on after the Taurid radiants were higher, and the sky was still clear enough to try by 22:30. However, by the time I was kitted-up around twenty minutes later, the sky was solidly overcast with thick fog - hasn't changed since either, sadly...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:21 pm 
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Though not confirmed as a definite Taurid meteor as yet, a brilliant fireball was caught by several dashboard video cameras around 20:38 local time on Nov 2 over Thailand, notably around the capital Bangkok. The meteor's path length, angle to the horizon and relatively slow apparent speed, would certainly fit with a Taurid origin, plus several early reports mentioned it as moving generally east to west, which would also fit (though one contrarily noted west to east instead...). Hopefully, the videos should enable the Thai Astronomical Society to determine at least an approximate atmospheric trajectory shortly.

One of the videos is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-34707721 , but a quick search will easily find more, and further sighting reports.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Hi Alastair,
The time for the white flash, which I saw for about 1 second, was November 1, 00.10 UT.
I don't know what it was, but I thought a video camera recording might confirm or not.

Regards, David


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 4:55 pm 
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Location: Lancashire
I witnessed a brilliant unaided eye Taurid yesterday evening when out scanning the Milky Way with the CELESTRON 102mm/f.5 refractor.
The Taurid, coming from East to West, was a lovely silvery white and appeared to be a virtual fireball.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:21 am 
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Location: Kilwinning, North Ayrshire.
Hi,
Certainly with the video observations the Taurids do indeed seem to be putting on a good show this year. There have been many captured.

I've been lucky and caught an exceptional spectrum from what may be a Southern Taurid.

Various analysis indicates it may be a sporadic but the obrital elements suggest it might be a Taurid that has undergone some gravitational perturbations.

Attachment:
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CRtjdlbXIAEy0fB.png [ 60.55 KiB | Viewed 1502 times ]


Taking a spectrum from approximately the same parts of the respective meteors images', it is extremely interesting to compare this result to another suspected Southern Taurid from last year!

Attachment:
CSIEPzbWoAAF5E0.png
CSIEPzbWoAAF5E0.png [ 87.2 KiB | Viewed 1502 times ]


They appear to be pretty much made of the same stuff. The power of spectroscopy! :D

cheers,
Bill.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:10 pm 
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Grand work Bill!

Further confirmation of the unusual strength of the Taurid activity currently is on Spaceweather.com today (Nov 5), with a lovely composite photo of the bright Taurid activity recorded on just Nov 4 from the Czech Republic (not all the meteor trails on the image are Taurids, but the caption suggests most of the brighter ones - between Venus and crescent Moon brilliance - probably were). In addition, comments from professional astronomer Peter Brown confirms the Canadian fireball patrol cameras have been recording much higher Taurid fireball rates than normal, along with enhanced Taurid radar rates better than for any other recent years detected using the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar system.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 3:30 pm 
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After yet another dismal day on Nov 6 here in NE England, the sky started breaking-up around sunset, and improved to be mostly clear for much of the night on Nov 6-7, deteriorating swiftly only after 03h UT. Consequently, I went out to see what the Taurids were up to several times overnight, managing some usefully-detailed meteor watching, lasting a total of four-and-a-half hours all-told, at various periods from 18:51 to 03:15. The sky wasn't perfect unfortunately, despite all the recent rain, fog and drizzle, with occasional patches of cloud drifting through, or forming-up spontaneously, plus haze at times, and conditions were sometimes variable on short timescales (5-10 minutes).

However, with an average LM of about +5.5, I spotted 13 Northern (NTA) and 4 Southern Taurids (STA) from a grand total of 49 meteors over the 4.5 hours, mostly (including all the Taurids) after 22:30. Taurid rates were indeed relatively better than those I've seen around this time of year in previous non-"swarm" years, particularly for the sky conditions. Some quick ZHR calculations suggested NTA values of order ~10, and combined STA + NTA ones of maybe 15-20, but all with plus-or-minus errors of at least 5, due to the small samples.

Curiously, the Taurids I saw seemed also relatively faint overall, though they made up for that at 02:06, with a spectacular, flaring, green-yellow, mag -5 to -7 NTA, that lit up the sky passing from Canis Minor to western Hydra, leaving a nine-second persistent train. Typically of course, I was facing the wrong way, so only caught the flare-light, before turning quickly to see the very end of the slow-moving fireball, and its impressive train.

There was a further unusual event, maybe another fireball, but perhaps only a late firework, at 01:28, when the low eastern sky (again, naturally, opposite my facing direction...) lit-up from below the rooftops with a brilliant, perhaps green, flaring light, strongest maybe towards the northeast. The flare lasted for two to three seconds overall, though was only momentarily at its very brightest. I saw no object directly, nor any meteoric train or smoke cloud, nor did I catch any sound subsequently. While the silence and lack of smoke cloud might imply the fireball option as more probable, as the breeze, while not especially noticeable at the time, favoured an east to northeasterly drift to the clouds passing through, any smoke or sound could have been carried away by it. There hadn't been any man-made fireworks seen or heard for more than two hours by then certainly, nor were any others noticed later. Maybe someone else can confirm if it could have been meteoric though?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 12:49 pm 
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Not quite a repeat of Nov 6-7 here in Northumberland on Nov 7-8, as the clearing sky after another miserable day was thankfully more steadily transparent (LM +5.9), but conversely, there was a similar amount of fast-moving cloud zipping-by all night. So, although I managed another three hours of dedicated meteor watching, short breaks were needed at times when there was just too much cloud cover.

However, in intervals between 21:24 UT to 01:30, I picked up another 19 Taurids (15 NTA) from 51 meteors, three of which NTA were in the low negative magnitude range (mags -1 and -2). No fireballs or other especially impressive individual meteors in what I spotted, but there were a couple of early probable Leonids shooting over, one with a very long path soon after radiant-rise, and two instances where a pair of sporadics followed one another almost simultaneously, which always livens things up for a while!

Taurid ZHRs estimated from these observations alone again suggested values in the 10+ range for the NTA, and around the 15-20 mark for all Taurids combined, still apparently above normal.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:54 pm 
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Better sky conditions overnight last night (Nov 8-9) finally, following an appalling deluge just after sunset hereabouts (roughly 1½ inches of rain in less than fifteen minutes around 4:30 p.m. - looked like fog in the streetlights it was hosing down so heavily). The strong, gusty breeze took the windchill temperature well down overnight though. LM was +6.1 in my two-hour stint after 22:07 UT, resulting in thirteen fresh Taurids (all-but one NTAs) from 41 meteors, and no clouds for once (not till after I'd come inside at least...). This allowed a better-confirmed impression of the elevated Taurid rates, roughly still twice what I'd have ordinarily expected. The Taurids I saw were once more bright, but with no fireballs; brightest meteor was a -2 NTA at 22:21, for instance.

My impression from online comments is that while there have been a number of splendid Taurid fireballs so far in this "swarm" return, the shower overall's been noticeably less productive of such brilliant events than during the 2005 swarm display, when I was still routinely collecting and analysing UK fireball and meteor data. Be interesting to see how this early impression stacks up when more data have come through. Plus there's still time for that impression to change!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:18 pm 
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Couple of cloudy nights in a week of gales and rain hereabouts since my previous notes, but last night (Nov 11-12) had some further clear spells, and from what I saw, the Taurid activity still seemed healthy enough, even though conditions reduced my observing time rather, and the number of meteors of course. Spaceweather.com's record of the NASA all-sky fireball camera reports from November 12 (that is, later on compared to UK time last night) suggested a smaller proportion of Taurid fireballs were captured than on any earlier night this month, or indeed back to October 30, which could suggest the Earth's moving away from the larger Taurid meteoroids now. Even so, still nearly one-in-three of the 28 fireballs imaged were Taurids. So maybe not quite all over yet, but perhaps not long left.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:06 pm 
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More successful Taurid-hunting last night again (Nov 12-13), with an appropriate thirteen Taurids (11 NTAs) from 34 meteors in two hours, ending at 01:26 UT. Mostly clear skies, but with an icy, penetrating, strong wind, and an average LM of +5.88. Brightest meteor, an NTA, was "only" mag 0, which may suggest much of the larger Taurids (= brighter meteors) have moved beyond Earth's grasp now. However, the NASA all-sky fireball patrol cameras recorded 18 of 64 fireballs on Nov 13 as NTAs, so there are still some brighter Taurids to be spotted, if you're lucky. The ZHRs I saw still seemed above normal too, so the shower continues to provide interest.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:20 pm 
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A quieter night for the Taurids on Nov 13-14, with just three NTA in the one-hour watch I managed around 22h-23h UT, but with a dozen more sporadics, thanks to the most transparent sky of the month so far - the LM got down to +6.4 for a while, averaging +6.3 over the hour. Worst part was the week-long gale "enjoying" one of its stronger spells, so the windchill was well below freezing, and the constant battering was rather wearing, even in what shelter I could find. Not enough data to make definite judgements about, but perhaps the better part of the Taurid "swarm" has now indeed passed.


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