Don’t Miss This Once in a Generation Meteor Shower Thursday Night
Few things are as captivating and awe-inspiring as witnessing a meteor shower under perfect atmospheric conditions. Fortunately, Thursday, November 21, stargazers will have an opportunity to do just that.
The Alpha Monocerotids takes place every year around November 21. However, once every few decades, the Alpha Monocerotids produces a much more impressive outburst that increases the frequency of “falling stars” from a few meteors per hour to potentially hundreds.
The large outbursts of this shower previously occurred in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995. These outbursts came as a complete surprise for those years, except when it was predicted in 1995, according to the American Meteor Society.
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Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the dust and ice of a comet that has long passed, as the Earth makes its annual revolution around the sun.
Stranger still, astronomers aren’t entirely sure which comet causes the Alpha Monocerotids. So why are astronomers predicting the rare outburst this year? The American Meteor Society said that conditions are lining up the way they did in 1995.
According to CNN, “during the 1995 outburst, the hourly rate of meteors was around 400. If the prediction is correct and that happens again, skygazers can expect to see around seven meteors streaking across the sky per minute.”
When is the best time to watch?
Assuming you have clear skies (check your local weather forecast), the best time for viewing will start at 11:15 p.m. ET and last between 15 and 40 minutes. But the meteor shower could start up to an hour earlier.
People on the East Coast will have the best chance at catching the outburst; however, it can still be viewed as far west as Colorado and Montana.
It’s always a good idea to be wary of light pollution, including from the moon. So give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness by arriving a little early at your viewing location.
Most parts of the country are experiencing mild temperatures this week, but bundle up if you plan to be outdoors for an extended time.
Good luck and happy hunting!