And there will be (post-election) signs in the heavens

In the wake of the election I find the news of the Taurid meteor shower (or the "Bull shower") to be especially welcome.

Here is news from

TAURID METEORS: The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway and it could be a good show. 2008 is a "swarm year" for the Taurids: Between Nov. 5th and 12th, Earth is due to pass through a swarm of gritty debris from parent comet 2P/Encke. When the same thing happened in 2005, sky watchers observed a slow drizzle of midnight fireballs for nearly two weeks.

Readers, be alert for more of these in the nights ahead. The best time to look is anytime after dark. The constellation Taurus (where Taurids appear) rises at sunset and hangs high overhead at midnight: sky map.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ohio Annie says:

    If this is your first one, meteor showers are best after midnight. Position a lounge chair, if you have one, so you look away from the origin, preferably toward the west. Your position will be partly determined by sources of light pollution in your area. That way you can see more meteors directly instead of having them suddenly appear and disappear in your peripheral vision. The Taurids tend to have a relatively high percentage of bright meteors.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    The “Bull shower” – how appropriate after an election…

  3. Terth says:

    “The best time to look is anytime after dark.”

    I was wondering…

  4. Howard says:

    “The best time to look is anytime after dark.”

    And the best place to look is anywhere above the horizon!

  5. LOL! Okay you guys… yes, most people could figure out the dark thing. It reminds me of the old thing…

    “Tonight’s forecast: dark, with increasing light towards dawn.”

  6. wwfmike says:

    I saw one last night as I was leaving work (about 9pm MST). It was amazing, bright in the sky and falling to the right. You could see the trail it left behind for a second or two.

  7. Jordanes says:

    “Signs in the heavens.” Like that red crescent moon hovering over the western horizon on the eve of the election, like a sickle dripping blood. No, I’m not superstitious, but that sight did make me think of the way the Old Testament prophets talked of blood-red moons on the day of God’s judgment. I couldn’t help but think this nation is under judgment.

    But hey, I’m being really cheery now, eh? Meteor showers are pretty cool. Living in town, though, it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I ever saw a falling star, and eventually I did get to witness a meteor shower – it was the Leonids, if I remember right.

  8. Brian Kopp says:

    Speaking of signs…yesterday’s (Nov. 5th, 2008, the day after the election) Illinois Lottery “Pick3” daily number was 666.

  9. Howard says:

    Actually, Fr. Z, your advice was good! Usually the number of meteors picks up a little after local midnight, since the rotation of the earth and its orbit around the sun are in the same direction then, which helps to “catch up” with slower meteoroids. But there will be more meteors than the few normal sporadics even before midnight, so people who don’t want to stay up late or get up early should not be discouraged from looking.

    And my joke about the best place to look being anywhere but the ground had some truth to it, too. If you extend the paths of the meteors back far enough, they will all tend to cross at the “radiant point”, which is in Taurus, but you might see them in any part of the sky. For instance, one meteor might break apart at an altitude of 50 miles and be seen by people in east Texas, Arkansas, and southeast Oklahoma, but from their different perspectives, it would appear to them in different parts of the sky. The important thing is just to find a clear patch of dark sky — don’t look towards the neighbors’ porch light — and take a comfortable chair, preferably one of those poolside jobs in which you can almost lie down. Then be patient!

  10. My family and I were planning to camp in Asheville, NC to get a good look at these. We were planning to do this next weekend. Does anyone know how to find out if we will see anything at that time?

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  11. supertradmom says:

    Sigh…it is raining here.

  12. shana sfo says:

    According to (which is a terrific site!) the Taurids will be visible until Nov 12, and even then one may still see a few here & there in the days that follow. A brief visit to that site every day will give you lots of information on current ‘sky events’. Its a favorite of ours.

    Some of my kids were out on the back stoop on piles of blankets and under more blankets watching the Taurids last night, counting the falling lights. They were hoping for fireballs (not uncommon with Taurids) and were very disappointed that they only say ‘the normal kind of falling stars’ – but they did see quite a lot of those!

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