Rare 'Unicorn' meteor shower coming Thursday: How and where to see it

22 Novembre, 2019, 03:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Possible meteor outburst this week worth a look

According to Jenniskens and Lyytinen, the alpha Monocerotids are caused by a dust stream released by a long-period comet, but the comet itself is still unknown.

This comet has been estimated to take more than 200 years to travel once around the Sun. What's interesting is that astronomers don't know which comet this is.

Now, two reputable meteor experts - Dr. Peter Jenniskens, a senior research scientist with the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center, and Esko Lyytinen of Finland - predict another brief meteor "outburst" is expected late on Thursday night, according to the Farmer's Almanac. But during that time frame, many meteors were seen in the sky.

Because the dust trail lingers for a while near Earth's orbit, such outbursts of meteors are at least possible for the next few centuries, the experts wrote.

Even so, the comet's trail only rarely gets close enough to Earth to create this spectacular display.

Both researchers said the meteor stream could be responsible for outbursts in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995.

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The conditions are lining up the way they did in 1995, so the meteor scientists are hopeful, but remind everyone that this is only a prediction.

Stargazers should hopefully - weather permitting - be able to glimpse from 100 to more than 1,000 meteors in the heavens.

The peak of the outburst lasts for only about 15 minutes, with the entire shower lasting 40 minutes, CNN reports.

That meteors should start at 4.50am GMT (11.50pm ET) tonight, but observers should start watching for potential meteors starting at about 11:25 p.m. EST (4:50 GMT).

The action should unfold early Friday morning over the western portions of Europe and Africa.

The moon is not particularly visible, making the view especially good. However, the meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky not far from the bright star Procyon in the neighboring constellation of Canis Minor, or Little Dog. But, while people are getting excited about the prediction, Bill Cooke, who leads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a recent blog post, "I now think there is a pretty good chance there may be no outburst at all".

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