The Taurid Meteor Shower and the Planet Venus
The Taurid Meteor Shower, featuring about 10-15 visible events per hour -- as seen under clear, dark skies -- peaks this year on the morning of Thursday, November 4. Best times for viewing are approximately 10pm to 3am. No moonlight will interfere with this shower this year. Individual meteors belonging to the Taurid shower are relatively slow-moving (they're caused by particles burning up when colliding with the Earth's atmosphere at a mere 18 miles per second). All Taurids seem to radiate from a fixed point in the direction of the constellation of Taurus, hence their name.
The Planet Venus has recently vanished from the western sky after sunset. Venus is currently making the transition between "evening star" and "morning star." During this transition, Venus passes in between the Earth and the sun, an event astronomers call "inferior conjunction." There won't be a precise alignment this time, but there will be a nearly exact alignment for the next inferior conjunction of Venus, which takes place June 6, 2012. That is a long-anticipated event in astronomy circles, since Venus will appear to "transit" (cross) the sun, its dark silhouette clearly visible from Earth. Transits of Venus occur in pairs, eight years apart, and those pairs don't repeat for more than a century. After 2012, the next transit of Venus will take place in the year 2117.
More like this:
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- The Perseid Meteor Shower, Venus, Mars, and Saturn — Aug. 11, 2010
- Venus and the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower — July 26, 2010
- The Taurid Meteor Shower — Nov. 4, 2009
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