A Possible Stellar Meteor Storm Coming Our Way

Two meteorologists, Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, have predicted what has been revealed to the public as a possible meteor-storm phenomenon involving a special kind of meteor shower called Alpha Monocerotids (AMO). This unique display of blazing space rock is predicted to make an appearance on the night of Thursday, Nov. 21, and peak at approximately 11:50 p.m. EST. The anticipated occurrence could produce several meteors per minute and last up to 45 minutes or an hour. As mentioned earlier, there is no guarantee that this event will take place due to its rarity and sparse occurrence in Earth’s astronomical history.  Like all weather-related events, it is a calculated prediction that could change due to unforeseen circumstances.

Meteor Shower vs. Meteor Storm

A meteor shower is when a bunch of space rocks called Meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere and cause a “shower” of space debris. The size of a meteoroid ranges from a small dust particle to a full-size boulder. The reason they are harmless is that by the time they orbit the sun they burn up until they aren’t big enough to cause extensive damage to Earth’s surface. Instead, they produce a fiery display of colors in the sky. A meteor storm, however, is simply another term for an unusually intense or concentrated meteor shower. For more information regarding meteoroids and space in general, you can visit Nasa’s website.

Courtesy: Unsplash

What does this have to do with unicorns?

As indicated by the description of this article, this possible meteor storm is somehow related to unicorns. More specifically, the word unicorn itself, not the mystical animal. Looking closer, we have to examine the meaning of the word Monocerotids. In the Greek language, Monoceros means “unicorn.”

One interesting fact about meteors is that they are normally named after their geographical location. This meteor, in particular, is named after the constellation, Canis Minor, near the bright star Procyon, to the left of Orion. Although you won’t be able to see actual unicorns, you might still experience a light show in the sky that is just as captivating and magical.

Is it worth the wait?

For each month there are typical meteor shower occurrences at around the same time every year, but the alpha Monocerotids meteor shower hasn’t occurred in over two decades. Something as rare as this might be worth seeing for yourself. Not to mention that this will be showcased in the sky for any willing participants to see. It’s a free light show and everyone is invited. Even if the meteor storm doesn’t occur, there will likely be a beautiful array of constellations to enjoy instead.

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