Possible meteor outburst this week worth a look up

Orionid Meteor Shower (Photo: John Flannery / CC BY-SA 2.0)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (AP) — Scientists are predicting a rare meteor outburst this week that may be brief but incredibly intense.

A brilliant flurry in the sky near the Unicorn constellation is expected Thursday night over the eastern half of North America and all South America. The action should unfold early Friday morning over the western portions of Europe and Africa.

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Hundreds of shooting stars may be visible as Earth plows through the dusty tail of an unidentified comet.

The alpha Monocerotids — named after the constellation Monoceros or the Unicorn — most recently produced an outburst in 1995.

NASA’s Ames Research Center scientist Peter Jenniskens and the Finnish Fireball Networks’ Esko Lyytinen anticipate another good show. They encourage stargazers to look up, but get out early because peak viewing time is short.

The peak of the potential meteor storm is around 11:50 p.m. Thursday night so experts recommend you get outside by 11:15 p.m. Although meteors can be seen in any part of the sky, your best bet is to look east.

There’s no guarantee there will be an outburst but at least the weather will be nice with mainly clear skies expected in eastern NC Thursday night. Additionally, there won’t be any interference from the moon since it won’t rise until after 1 a.m.

Can’t see the shower? Try watching online via the Virtual Telescope Project.

If you miss this one, the next one won’t occur until 2043.