Home / Science / "Unicorn meteor storm" triggered by mysterious comet Thursday night | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio

"Unicorn meteor storm" triggered by mysterious comet Thursday night | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio



(Accuweather) – This is not your typical meteor shower. On Thursday night, stargazers can see several meteors per second during a rare event known as a meteor storm.

There is a chance that the upcoming Alpha Monocerotide meteor shower could turn into an all-out meteor storm on November 21, according to Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens, two meteor scientists who have studied meteor shower.

There is no guarantee that such an event will develop, but Lyytinen and Jenniskens say there is a "good chance" that this will give the first alpha Monocerotide meteor storm since 1

995, when it produced speeds of about 400 meteors per hour.

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What is the time to look for the meteor storm

Knowing when to look for the potential meteor storm is extremely important.

"Unlike most meteor outbreaks that last for several hours, strong activity from the alpha monocert times is within an hour and easily mi ssed," the American Meteor Society (AMS) explained on its website.

The outbreak is estimated to reach its climax around 11:50 p.m. EST on November 21 according to AMS.

Spectators should start looking for shooting stars at 11 EST and continue searching through midnight for the best chance of seeing the potential meteor storm. If you are not outside this window, you may miss the heavenly light show altogether.

"These meteors are never evenly distributed but are shown in masses so 2-3 meteors can be seen with each other from one another and then a full minute can go without any activity," said AMS.

What exactly is a "meteor storm"

We have all heard of meteor showers, which chirp as the earth passes through a field of debris left by an asteroid or comet.

"[I] for the dust track is small and dense, then the resulting meteor shower can result in hundreds, or maybe even thousands of meteors that burn up in just a few minutes," the National Weather Service (NWS)) explained.

"If this scenario occurs, the meteor shower is called a meteor storm," the NWS added.

One of the most productive meteor storms in recorded history was played out on November 17, 1966, when onlookers witnessed as many as 40 meteors per second, or 144,000 meteors per hour, conforming to AMS.

Outbreak of unknown origin

Alfa Monocertids is a mysterious meteor shower because scientists are uncertain when it began, or what exactly causes it.

"This eruption is caused by the dust emitted by a long-time comet, but the comet itself is still unknown," Lyytinen and Jenniskens explained.

Despite these uncertainties, one thing is known for security: the meteors radiate from Monoceros, a weak constellation that is Greek for unicorns and located just to the left of the well-known constellation Orion.

Contrary to popular belief, shooting stars are visible in large parts of the night sky, not just the area near the unicorn constellation, which as long as the clouds do not obscure the sky. "

The best viewing conditions for the alpha Monocerotide meteor shower are expected over the western and northern central United States with only uneven clouds in the forecast.

Unfortunately, reaching storms will spread clouds across much of the southern and eastern United States, as well as eastern Canada.

Clouds are also in the forecast for much of Alaska and uneven clouds in Hawaii.

Stargazers should remember that there is a chance the meteor storm will not occur.

Even though the outbreak does not occur, people should still be able to watch out to 10 "sporadic" meteors per hour, according to AMS.

In addition, the moon will not rise to around 3 o'clock local time, which means that the shower will not be questioned by the largest source of natural light pollution.

the meteor storm is expanding, it will be only the fifth known eruption of the alpha monocertime on record. The previous events were recorded in 1925 , 1935, 1985 and 1995.


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