An outburst of meteors is by far one of the most spectacular phenomenons a human being can witness, and soon we’ll get the chance to encounter such a sight once again. On Thursday night, November 21 to 22 at 4:50 Universal Time (11:50 p.m. EST on November 21st), the Alpha Monocerotid shower will produce up to 400 meteors from a radiant near the star Procyon, which is close to the constellation Monoceros (aka the unicorn).
The outburst will last only about half an hour, and it’s expected to delight our view. Peter Jenniskens is a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center. He has been keeping an eye on the meteor shower for several years, along with Esko Lyytinen of the Finnish Fireball Network.
The source for Alpha Monocerotids is unknown
Although nobody knows for sure what the source may be, clues point to a nameless comet that has a period of around 500 years. This space object deposited a dense portion of debris in the distant past which measured around 110,000 kilometers, and that is a lot more than Earth’s circumference.
Scientists are certain that you shouldn’t be late for the celestial show. To be sure of that, you have to get out until 4:15 UT, Nov. 22nd (11:15 p.m. EST on Nov. 21st). The radiant which is located in eastern Monoceros, will begin to rise around 10 p.m. local time. The luckiest fellows expected to see the meteor shower in all its glory are the ones located in Canada and Eastern US. Also, there are numerous other countries from where you can admire the meteors roaming the sky. Inhabitants from Africa and Western Europe will be able to see it in an hour or two before dawn.
Therefore, you should feel lucky that you are able to admire the meteor shower. As far as we know, there aren’t any other intelligent life forms in the solar system able to witness such an event and reflect on it.