'Unicorn meteor storm' could be triggered by mysterious comet tonight

Pablo Tucker
November 24, 2019

If you're not in the right location to watch the outburst in person, the Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast a livestream that will start at 11:15 p.m. ET (4:15 UT).

"There are dust trails hanging out in the night sky that Earth is orbiting, and then we pass through that leftover trail". The parent comet of Alpha Monocerotids has not been discovered, leading Cooke to question how accurate the prediction 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.

A brilliant flurry in the sky near the Unicorn constellation is expected Thursday night over the eastern half of North America and all South America.

Unlike other meteor showers that can last hours and even days, scientists think that the alpha Monocerotid meteor shower will have a short but intense burst of activity just before midnight.

"Anyone who is going to try to observe should not be late at all", they explain, advising skywatchers to go outside at 11.30 p.m. EST, or even 15 minutes earlier if they don't want to miss any meteors at all.

"There's certainly going to be increasing clouds; to say how thick they will be is hard", he said.

People in Southwest Florida are in luck because skies will be mostly clear with temperatures in the 60s-- just make sure you're looking to the east-southeast.

If the predictions bear out, sky-watchers should expect to see few to no meteors before the outburst begins.

While that rate is still consistent with a meteor shower, it's not almost the spectacular sight that the predicted 1,000 meteors per hour would be.

"What I would recommend is getting as far away from city lights as possible".

Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt. "Look east toward Orion".

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