Two November meteor showers to be followed by lunar eclipse


Three notable sky events will be worth checking out during the next two weeks of November, including a meteor shower that will be peaking this week and a partial lunar eclipse that will turn the full moon into a rusty-orange color.

The Northern Taurid meteor shower will be active this entire week but is expected to be at its best late Thursday night, Nov. 11, into the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 12, with anywhere from 10 to 15 meteors per hour zipping across the sky in dark areas.

Astronomy experts from Space.com say the November moon phase and moon-set times will be favorable for catching a glimpse of these shooting stars.

The moon was in its crescent phase on Nov. 5, when the meteors started appearing, Space.com noted. “Each night, the moon will get a little wider and a little brighter and sets about an hour later. But even by the evening of Nov. 12 when the phase of the moon has grown to just a day past first quarter (”half phase”), it will set around 12:50 a.m., leaving the rest of the night dark for meteor viewing.”

Space.com says the Taurid meteors often have a yellowish-orange color and “appear to move rather slowly” compared to other shooting stars.

“Their name comes from the way they seem to radiate from the constellation Taurus, the Bull, which sits low in the east a couple of hours after sundown and is almost directly overhead by around 1:30 a.m. local time,” the astronomy site notes. “Even as late as Nov. 12, the bright moon will have departed the scene just as Taurus is reaching its highest point in the sky.”

Two November meteor showers to be followed by lunar eclipse

Two meteor showers - the Northern Taurids and the Leonids - are expected to reach their peak in November 2021. Those sky events will be followed by a full moon and partial lunar eclipse.Shutterstock

If you don’t get a chance to see the Taurids, another meteor shower is expected to peak this month. The Leonid meteor shower should be most active during the late-night hours of Nov. 16 through dawn on Nov. 17, according to EarthSky.org and other astronomy experts.

However, it may be tough to spot the Leonids, because of the light from the moon as it gets close to reaching its fullest phase of the month. “The bright waxing gibbous moon will be out nearly all night long,” EarthSky says. “It’ll set in the wee hours before sunrise.”

During an average year, the Leonids usually produce 10 to 15 meteors per hour in dark areas away from city lights. But that number is expected to be much lower this year because of the moonlight.

Two November meteor showers to be followed by lunar eclipse

This is what the full "blood moon" looked like during a lunar eclipse that occurred in January 2019, as seen from Brigantine in South Jersey.

Sky watchers in the eastern United States will have an opportunity to see a partial lunar eclipse later this month, although they will have to wake up early.

The eclipse will occur during the pre-dawn hours on Nov. 19, when the so-called “beaver moon” will officially turn full — shortly before 4 a.m. Eastern time.

“November’s lunar eclipse will be very close to a total lunar eclipse, with just a sliver of the moon missing Earth’s dark inner shadow,” AccuWeather notes. “Because of this, it may be possible for the moon to briefly appear rusty orange or red, similar to what occurs during the height of a total eclipse.”

The rusty orange color is why many sky watchers often use the term “blood moon” to describe a full moon during a lunar eclipse.

Following the partial eclipse and full moon on Nov. 19, the final of the 12 full moons of 2021 will be shining in the sky on Dec. 18. It is commonly known as the “cold moon” because it appears when the chill of winter starts to set in.

The next “supermoon” — a full moon that appears to be slightly bigger and brighter than the average moon because its orbit is a bit closer to Earth — won’t appear until June 14, 2022.

Note: If you are unable to view the chart above on your screen, click here to see it.

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Len Melisurgo may be reached at [email protected].