Bright, glowing fireballs zipping across the night sky have been reported worldwide as the Taurid meteor shower delights stargazers this month.
But the event peaks Wednesday night and Thursday morning, offering South Florida sky watchers their best chance of catching what one expert called a “life changing” event.
Fireballs are typically brighter and larger than “shooting stars,” and can last longer in the sky, lighting up the landscape as they fall.
“The casual observer may see one in their entire life and they are blown away,” said Mike Hankey, operations manager with the American Meteor Society. “You think the world is ending, or that we’re under attack.”
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The American Meteor Society received 12 reports of fireball sightings late Monday in Florida.
“I taught astronomy for over 30 years. This was the best and brightest I’ve ever seen,” remarked one observer from Dunedin.
The fireballs are peaking because Earth is passing through the most dense part of the debris cloud from the comet 2P/Encke.
“This shower is notorious for producing fireballs, and there are signs that this could be a year of enhanced activity,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel.
Hankey said the Taurid shower, although annual, is most robust every seven years. The last big shower was 2008, meaning 2015 may be a significant event.
“I can tell you in just the last few weeks we’ve been getting tons and tons of fireball reports from all over the world,” Hankey said. “The activity has been much more than we normally get at this point.”
Kimberly Miller writes for The Palm Beach Post.