As you hang holiday lights and light the candles, cast your gaze upon the universe's natural fireworks as well.
A thin crescent moon in 2012 will provide for dark nights and early morning light to enhance this year's North Taurid meteor shower, according to EarthSky.org.
Among the best places locally to see it are at some of the overlooks along Mulholland Drive or near the Los Angeles River. Some darker areas could also be Moorpark Park, Fryman Canyon Park or Weddington Park.
Space.com reports the best time to see the Taurid meteors, or "Halloween fireballs," started Nov. 5 and peaks early this week, as the moon diminishes in brightness each night.
Up to 15 yellow-orange meteors could appear per hour each night and appear to move very slowly, according to Space.com.
Astronomers anticipate three meteor showers this November and December.
Monday: Taurid Meteor Shower
- The Taurid meteors are expected to peak Monday in the early morning hours just after midnight. EarthSky.com reports that this slow-moving, modest shower may yield just 10 meteors per hour. "But even one bright meteor can be a treat, especially since a good percentage of the Taurid meteors tend to produce fireballs!" according to the website. The shower is visible anywhere in the world and will appear to radiate from the Pleiades star cluster.
Nov. 17: Leonid Meteor Shower
- After years of heavier-than-average showers, the famous Leonids have returned and are expected to peak on Nov. 17 in the pre-dawn hours. These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion. "Many Leonids are also bright. Usually, the meteors are white or bluish-white, but in recent years some observers reported yellow-pink and copper-colored ones," according to the website.
Dec. 13: Geminid Meteor Shower
- The last shooting star cluster before New Year's is the Geminid Meteor Shower, expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours after midnight between Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. They will be visible in all parts of the sky and streak through the sky at more than 50 meteors per hour, almost a meteor a minute, according to EarthSky.com. The new moon is expected to fall on Dec. 13, making for optimal dark skies – as long as you avoid city lights and clouds, the website states.
Be sure to schedule a night this season to bundle up, lay out some blankets and enjoy the light show in the sky.
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