SCIENCE

Mysterious Comet Will Cause Rare ‘Unicorn’ Meteor Storm This week. Here’s How To Watch

Nov 20, 2019, 6:10 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:03 pm
Two meteor scientists, Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, shared their prediction for an outburst ...
Two meteor scientists, Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, shared their prediction for an outburst by the alpha Monocertoid meteor shower on November 21 or 22, depending on your location. (S. Mola & Jenniskens/Ames/NASA)
(S. Mola & Jenniskens/Ames/NASA)

(CNN) — Two meteor scientists, Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, shared their prediction for an outburst by the alpha Monocertoid meteor shower on November 21 or 22, depending on your location.

Prepare to set your watch so you don’t miss the potential for a very limited and rare dazzling display in the night sky that could include up to 400 meteors.

The exact time of the outburst has been calculated to 04:50 Universal Time, or 11:50 pm ET. And it will likely only last for a short time, with the peak of the outburst lasting for about 15 minutes and the entire shower clocking in at 40 minutes. The brightness of the moon isn’t expected to interfere since it will be waning.

The best views will be in South America, eastern North America, western Europe and northwestern Africa. The radiant point of the meteors is in the Monoceros, the Unicorn constellation, near Orion the Hunter.

So why is this such a big deal? The alpha Monocertoid meteor shower usually happens each year around November 21 to 23, but during a normal shower it only produces a few meteors each night.

The large outbursts of this shower previously occurred in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995, with the outburst being a complete surprise for each of those years, except when it was predicted in 1995, according to the American Meteor Society.

The meteor shower comes from the dust trail of an unknown comet, the meteor scientists said. And the stream of meteoroids only intersects Earth’s orbit sometimes, which is what makes this potential outburst so rare.

The conditions are lining up the way they did in 1995, so the meteor scientists are hopeful, but remind everyone that this is only a prediction.

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. But the rate could actually mean two to three meteors close together and then another minute before activity picks up again. They’ll be moving at about 140,927 miles per hour.

The scientists suggested that people prepare to observe the sky an hour before the predicted time in case the shower begins earlier.

Find an open area away from the city that will afford you a wide view of the sky, and don’t forget to bring a blanket or chair and dress for the weather. Allow yourself time for your eyes to adjust to the dark. And you won’t need binoculars or telescopes to enjoy the show.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Science

A dip in suicide rates in 2019 continued into 2020, but the CDC report, released on September 30, s...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

US suicide rates rose in 2021, reversing two years of decline

A dip in suicide rates in 2019 continued into 2020, but a CDC report released on Sept. 30 shows that 2021 reversed most of that improvement and brought rates back to near-record levels.
3 days ago
(Mark Wetzel/KSL TV)...
AIMEE COBABE, KSL Newsradio AND ALEX CABRERO, KSL TV

Researchers using dirty diapers to develop new autism test

A group of researchers at Brigham Young University is looking for ways to detect autism in children earlier. And they’re using dirty diapers to do it. 
4 days ago
FILE: The life expectancy of dogs can be six to 12 times shorter than humans....
Megan Marples, CNN

Dogs can smell when humans are stressed, study suggests

Dogs can smell the difference between odors from humans when they're stressed and when they're calm, according to a study.
5 days ago
(Photo courtesy: @STEMUtah/Twitter)...
KSL TV

Kicking off Utah’s STEMfest with Casey Scott

Thousands of students are getting ready for this year's Utah STEMfest in Sandy.
6 days ago
Kennedy Space Center on September 03, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)...
MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

EXPLAINER: Why is a NASA spacecraft crashing into an asteroid?

A NASA spacecraft is about to clobber a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away. The spacecraft named Dart will zero in on the asteroid Monday, intent on slamming it head-on at 14,000 mph.
8 days ago
An illustration shows NASA's DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube prior to impa...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

What will be visible when DART spacecraft crashes into tiny asteroid

The NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test aims to make history on Monday at 7:14 p.m. ET when it slams into Dimorphos, a tiny asteroid moon orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Mysterious Comet Will Cause Rare ‘Unicorn’ Meteor Storm This week. Here’s How To Watch