A Rare Meteor Shower May Grace The Skies Thursday

Katie Ramirez
November 24, 2019

With a touch of karma, individuals in the Eastern United States will have the option to observe an uncommon meteor shower known as the Alpha Monocerotids late Thursday night.

It is unofficially called the Unicorn meteor shower because it can be seen in the night sky near the unicorn constellation, also called Monoceros.

The 1925 and 1935 meteor storms produced over 16 meteors per minute while the 1995 meteor storm produced 7 per minute. Tonight's crescent moon will shine relatively little light to drown out the spectacular sky show. And it will likely only last for a short time, with the peak of the outburst lasting for about 15 minutes and the entire shower clocking in at 40 minutes.

While a Monocertoid meteor shower occurs annually in late November, it usually only involves a few meteors.

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Skywatchers in the eastern US could enjoy a spectacular, but brief "unicorn meteor" shower on Thursday night.

The comet will consequently create a bonanza of meteors, NASA's Ames Research Center scientist Dr Peter Jenniskens and the Finnish Fireball Network's Esko Lyytinen, announced.

The comet responsible for the potential sky show has never been sighted before, but it has apparently left circumstantial evidence of its existence based on four previous Earth encounters, the Almanac said. Those in South America, the eastern portion of North America, western Europe and northwestern Africa will have the best views, CNN writes. The last unicorn meteor shower happened in 1995, and the next one is predicted for 2043.

"Even if there is no outburst, it doesn't hurt to get out under the stars for a bit", Cooke said. Rain is expected to move into the area around 10 p.m., but clouds will fill the sky before the rain hits, blocking the view. But because that peak time is somewhat uncertain, Jenniskens suggests that observers get a head start and begin looking up an hour or two beforehand. Look for the shooting stars between 11 p.m. and midnight Eastern time. They'll be moving at about 140,927 miles per hour.

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