Mysterious Comet Will Cause a Rare ‘Unicorn’ Meteor Storm This Week

Pablo Tucker
November 21, 2019

Two leading meteor scientists are forecasting that a rare outburst from the alpha Monocertoid meteor will treat stargazers to a flurry of shooting stars this week. By comparison, 20 meteors per hour were visible during last month's Orionid meteor shower. The exact time of the outburst has been calculated to 10:50 p.m. (CT) and will only last for 40 minutes.

For the best view, try to get away from bright city lights and find a spot that is a bit elevated.

The constellations of Orion the Hunter, top right, Canis Major, bottom left, and Monoceros, upper center left. 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. The rare meteor burst known as the alpha Monocerotids is set to potentially give a flashier than usual show like one that was seen 24 years ago.

And this is all happening amid the Leonid meteor shower that goes on through November, but which peaked last weekend.

During the 1995 outburst, the hourly rate of meteors hit around 400, and scientists are predicting that this week's show will produce something similar, with more than a handful of meteors blazing across the sky every minute.

Timing will be critical if you're looking to see the meteor shower. The large outbursts previously occurred in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995.

What to watch for: If you're on the U.S. East Coast or in Western Europe, it's worth keeping watch from a dark place at the appointed time.

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