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Taurid meteor shower 2019 time: How to catch the fireballs at their peak

It's that wonderful time of year when space dust can put on a particularly fiery spectacle in the sky.

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A Taurid fireball captured in 2015. 

P. Spurny/Czech Academy of Sciences

The Taurids, one of the most dramatic meteor showers of the year is hitting its peak, and this week could be the best time to catch the show. 

During the last three months of each year, Earth drifts through a cloud of debris left behind by the comet P1/Encke. As bits of this space dust and pebbles collide with our atmosphere and burn up, they create the meteor trails we call "shooting stars" and sometimes even bigger, brighter fireballs in the sky.

We are passing through the most dense part of the debris cloud right now and that means the Taurid meteor showers, which are divided into two streams of debris called the Northern Taurids and Southern Taurids, are near their peaks, according to the American Meteor Society.

Unlike more famous meteor showers such as the Perseids, the Taurids don't have a particularly steep peak when an abundance of meteors can be seen on one or two nights. Prime viewing time is more spread out over a few weeks, producing perhaps a handful of meteors per hour -- hopefully including a few fireballs -- in the early morning hours after midnight, local time.

In addition to producing bright, colorful and sometimes fragmenting fireballs, the Taurids are known for being slow moving. They might last for up to a second in the sky, making them easier to photograph than other meteors that can literally be missed by the blink of an eye. 

The moon is growing a little more full with each passing night this week, so it might be best to head out sooner than later to try and catch the show to avoid it being drowned out by all that moonlight.

For the optimal viewing experience, find a location as far from light pollution and with as broad a view of the sky as possible. Think hilltops or country fields. Bundle up, lay back and simply look up after your eyes have adjusted to the dark. You don't need to look at a particular section of sky. 

Enjoy the show, and If you capture any fireballs on video, please share the footage with me on Twitter @EricCMack.

Originally published Nov. 6.