A magnificent celestial sight is about to grace us this Thursday evening as a rare “unicorn” meteor storm could appear during the night, astronomers say.
Several meteors per minute are likely to shower down at the peak of the storm, according to meteor experts Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens.
Scientists cannot say with certainty whether this event will unfold. Lyyntinen and Jenniskens believe there is a “good chance” to experience the first Alpa Monocerotids storm since 1995, when meteors were 400 meteors falling every hour, as per AccuWeather.
The name Alpha Monocerotids comes from Monoceros (Greek for unicorn), and it is where meteors radiate from. It is a constellation located to the left of Orion, according to AccuWeather.
“Unlike most meteor outbursts, which last for several hours, strong activity from the Alpha Monocerotids is over within an hour and easily missed,” the American Meteor Society said.
The event should reach its peak around 11:50 p.m. EST the following Thursday, as per the meteor society.
Similarly to all other meteor showers, the Alpha occurs when our planet passes through a debris field left by a comet or asteroid. The strange thing about this particular shower is that the comet is unknown.
If the comet’s trail of dust is dense and small in size, the meteor shower that will form “may result in hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of meteors burning up in just minutes,” the National Weather Service explained.
“If this scenario happens, that meteor shower is referred to as a meteor storm,” they said.
Western and north-central USA will likely offer the best viewing conditions since there are only patchy clouds in the forecast.
The moon will not appear until the early morning. This means that the shower will not be affected by what can be the best source of natural light, AccuWeather said.
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