The Northern Taurid meteor shower is a quality over quantity meteor shower, and it proved it over the skies of St. Louis last night. Around 8:55 p.m. local time, a bright fireball streaked across the midwest sky.
David Vergel was watching an EarthCam aimed at the city’s Gateway Arch and captured footage of the meteor.
Security cameras around the area also caught the fireball as it happened.
The Taurids are peaking right now, but don’t go outside expecting to see dozens per hour. You’ll be lucky to see 5. But if you do see one, there’s a good chance it’ll be a fireball like the one over St. Louis last night.
Last night’s fireball is believed to be the remnants of comet Encke (which may be the leftovers of an even bigger comet), a short-term periodic comet that makes its trip around the sun every 3.3 years. These pieces float in space until Earth’s orbit takes it through them which cause the meteors to impact our atmosphere at speeds of 28 kilometers per second.
So far, there haven’t been any reports of the fireball making it to the ground. In most cases, meteors burn up entirely before striking the ground, according to the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
Meteor shower fans have plenty to look forward to through the rest of 2019. The Leonids (famous for its 1833 meteor storm that produced as many as 100,000 meteors per hour) peaks on November 17. Unfortunately, the meteor rate won’t be anywhere close to 100,000. You can expect to see 15-20 per hour during its peak this year.
Once the Leonids wrap up, we’ll have the Geminids to look forward to. The Geminids peak on December 14. They usually produce upwards of 100 meteors per hour, but a full moon will drown out many of the fainter ones. Expect an hourly rate closer to 30 instead. A bummer, but the meteors we will see will be good ones.