'Unicorn' meteor shower could produce rare storm Thursday night

Short Meteor Storm Visible In The Eastern Skies Tonight

Scientists Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen have predicted there may be an outburst of the alpha Monocertoid meteor shower overnight on november 21-22, according to the American Meteorological Society. Two stargazers anticipated the upheaval will last not exactly an hour and could even yield in excess of 400 meteors in that time. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. The alpha Monocerotids are active every year but typically only produce a few meteors.

Meteor specialists Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen distributed their expectation in MeteorNews.

According to the Farmers' Almanac, the Alpha Monocerotid meteor shower will reach its peak on Thursday night.

The comet responsible for the potential sky show has never been sighted before, but it has apparently left circumstantial evidence of its existence based on four previous Earth encounters, the Almanac said.

Astronomers Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens published a paper earlier this month on the unusual meteor event, writing that the conditions are almost identical to the outburst 24 years ago, which had about 400 meteors per hour. It is suggested that anyone wanting to view the storm to find a clear view of the sky facing east. In this case, however, the debris stream that causes the shower is very narrow-less than 32,000 miles wide-so the peak is expected to last from a mere 15 minutes to an hour.

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

However, if the dust trail is small and dense, then the resulting meteor shower may result in hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of meteors burning up in just minutes. The next one is expected to be in 2043, the scientists say. And while you may have never heard of this meteor shower, this year you might want to check it out.

Once it starts, Jenniskens recommends that people keep watching for about an hour to ensure they see the full show.