Before BLINK Illuminates Cincinnati, Catch a Natural Light Show Tonight Thanks to This Meteor Shower

Ohioans have a good shot at viewing the Southern Taurids meteor shower — known for extra-bright meteors — when it peaks tonight

click to enlarge A photo of the Perseid meteor shower over West Virginia - NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA/Bill Ingalls
A photo of the Perseid meteor shower over West Virginia

As Greater Cincinnati gears up for massive light art festival BLINK, nature may have a light show of its own in store for the region.

Astronomy-minded Cincinnatians will likely be able to catch a meteor shower late this evening as the Southern Taurids are at their peak in the night skies above Ohio and other areas around the country.

The shower doesn't usually produce more than five meteors an hour, according to the American Meteor Society, but it is known for so-called "fireballs," exceptionally bright meteors more luminescent than observable stars in the night sky. 

Ohio will likely have optimal viewing conditions for the shower, according to the website Accuweather.com. The best time for viewing will likely be before midnight, when increased cloud cover is expected to move into the region.

Meteor showers are caused by debris from space — called meteoroids — entering the earth's atmosphere at very high speeds and burning up due to friction. Most meteoroids originate from comets, according to AMS. During a shower, meteors appear to originate from the same place in the night sky, called the "radiant." 

Another meteor shower — the Dracondis — peaked earlier this month, but you might still catch a glimpse of a meteor or two from that event. If you see meteors coming from a radiant point in the east, those belong to the Southern Taurids, while those from the west are from the Dracondis. 

If you miss the peak of the Taurids tonight, you'll have another chance to see some meteors later this month, when the Orionid shower peaks on the night of Oct. 21. That shower is known to bring up to 20 meteors an hour. 


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