PHOENIX - Have you seen strange lights flashing in the night sky this week? What are they? And where did they come from?
Before you start thinking about visitors from another planet experts say it is likely a meteor.
The Arizona Challenger Space Center says the big flash people may have noticed Thursday night was a meteor from the Taurid Meteor Shower; been going on for a few days and will peak tonight and tomorrow.
If you wanna get a look at them, don’t expect to see a flashy display of lights in the sky like something out a lantern festival.
Dr. Patrick Young, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, says the meteors this year will be infrequent, maybe five per hour, but they do have the potential to be very bright.
The Arizona Challenger Space Center says nearly 99.9-percent of the meteors this year will be faint.
“They’re very short and brief but if you got to a dark site it is fun to see them because you will see quite a few,” says Claude Haynes, manager of the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory.
Tony Laconte, a professional stargazer with Stargazing for Everyone, says if you know where to look it can make for a fun experience.
The best time to see the Taurid Meteor Shower will be just right after midnight as Taurus is rising in the east halfway up in the sky near a cluster of stars known as Pleiades. You’ll wanna head east and away from the city lights to get a good look.
If you don’t know your constellations as well as these guys, there are several mobile apps available to help guide you through the sky. Some experts claim it will be a good month for meteor showers The Leonids will peak next week around Nov. 16 and 17, but Dr. Young, says it won't be a good year for those either.
Most will be faint and will only see about 10 an hour. The Taurids this year will also be competing with the moon, making it harder to see them.
If planets are more of your thing. Dr. Young says Venus and Jupiter will make a very bright duo in the east before sunrise. Next week will also be a good time to see Saturn and Mercury in the west just after sunset.