How to Watch the Rare 'Unicorn' Meteor Storm Thursday Night

Katie Ramirez
November 21, 2019

The prediction comes via astronomers Esko Lyytinen of the Finnish Fireball Network and Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center, both of whom have been tracking the alpha Monocerotids for many years. By comparison, 20 meteors per hour were visible during last month's Orionid meteor shower.

As EarthSky explains, the alpha Monocerotids are produced by a dust cloud from an unknown long-period comet - i.e. one that has an orbit of over 200 years - and they appear to originate from the faint constellation Monoceros ("the unicorn").

Why it's no big deal: It'll be dark over North America for the projected peak, sometime between 8:15 and 9:25 p.m. PT Thursday. Here's what you need to know about the looming light show.

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According to the American Meteor Society, the alpha Monocerotids (which are in the Monoceros, or the unicorn, constellation) are active every year with "a few" meteors around November 22.

The last time this happened under similar conditions was in 1995, and it was phenomenal according to stargazers. The large outbursts previously occurred in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995. Blue is good, red is not so good, and white means the radiant won't be above the horizon during the expected peak of the meteor shower. No telescopes or equipment are required to see the shower, but people are being advised to wrap up in warm clothes and avoid looking at their phones to allow their eyes to adjust to the night sky.

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