Taurid swarm years

"Fireball Sightings" - Science@NASA feature by Dr Tony Phillips
2005 lunar Taurid
N. Ireland astronomy bulletin (note on reported fireballs), 2005 Nov 3
-10 mag fireball observed in 2008 Taurids (Majchrovic, Maruska & Piffl)
Paper describing Taurid swarm model (Asher & Izumi 1998)
Paper surveying 1962-2002 Taurid fireball activity (Beech et al.)
Paper surveying 1988-2005 Taurid activity (Johannink & Miskotte)
International Meteor Organization
Armagh Observatory home page

The Taurid meteor shower occurs every year, when the Earth passes through the Taurid meteoroid complex, a huge stream of material orbiting in interplanetary space. There is a theory of a `resonant meteoroid swarm' within the Taurid Complex. Briefly, it predicts that in specific years, the Earth is hit by a greater number (than in average years) of meteoroids capable of producing Taurid fireballs.

The following table of swarm encounters predicted by the model was published in a paper by D.J. Asher & S.V.M. Clube (1993) Q. J. R. Astron. Soc. 34, 481-511 (the version below has 6 lines added, as the published version stopped at 2008 and 2009). Meteoroids are concentrated within 60-70 degrees in mean anomaly M (i.e. up to to 30 deg or so from the `resonance centre') with a gradual decrease over 10 deg or so at each end. Encounters are listed here for M within 40 deg of the centre. Calculations were based on the dates Nov 3 (pre-perihelion) and Jun 23 (post-perihelion); in fact, the swarm spans a week to each side of these dates (and the entire Taurid stream is even broader than the swarm). Negative Delta M means the swarm centre (resonance centre) is short of the Earth at the Jun or Nov date in question. Positive Delta M means the swarm centre is past the Earth.

The Earth passes through the Taurid stream in Jun/Jul and Oct/Nov but in Jun/Jul the meteors come from the daytime side of the Earth. Therefore it is Oct/Nov that is of interest to visual meteor watchers. The table shows that enhanced numbers of Taurid fireballs were predicted (at the very end of Oct and first week or two of Nov) in, for example, 1998 and 2005.


Year (Jun) Delta M
1904 19
1907 -22
1914 2
1917 -40
1921 25
1924 -16
1931 7
1934 -34
1938 31
1941 -10
1948 13
1951 -28
1955 37
1958 -5
1965 19
1968 -22
1975 1
1982 25
1985 -17
1992 7
1995 -34
1999 30
Year (Jun) Delta M
2002 -11
2009 13
2012 -29
2016 36
2019 -5
2026 18
2029 -23
2036 1
Year (Nov) Delta M
1900 18
1903 -24
1910 0
1917 23
1920 -18
1927 6
1930 -36
1934 29
1937 -12
1944 11
1947 -30
1951 35
1954 -6
1961 17
1964 -24
1971 -1
1978 23
1981 -18
1988 5
1991 -36
1995 29
1998 -13
Year (Nov) Delta M
2005 11
2008 -30
2012 35
2015 -7
2022 17
2025 -25
2032 -1
2039 23

If you want data for years beyond the end of this published table, note that the numbers come close to repeating every 61 years. This is because the swarm orbital period happens to be close to 61/18 years. So after the Earth goes around the Sun 61 times, and the swarm 18 times, the relative configuration of Earth and swarm repeats. Example: there was a good swarm encounter in 1954; so there should be one in 2015.


Last revised: 2014 April 11th