How to see a rare meteor shower tonight; 7 meteors a minute could be visible

Published 6:25 am Thursday, November 21, 2019

By Cody Nelson

MPR News/90.1 FM

The alpha Monocerotids isn’t like the other meteor showers.

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Its projected outburst in Minnesota skies late Thursday night will be short — 40 minutes tops, according to the scientists predicting it.

And it’s rare. There have been four known outbursts of alpha Monocerotids in history, the most recent coming in 1995.

But if the projections from scientists Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens become true, this could be a busy shower with up to seven meteors passing every minute, the American Meteorological Society says.

The 1995 alpha Monocerotids shower had a projected zenithal hourly rate — the number of single meteors in an hour — of about 400. Thursday’s shower could have zenithal hourly rates as low as 100 and as high as over 1000.

How to watch

The meteor shower’s peak activity levels are projected to be at 10:50 p.m. central time, so start watching around 10:15 p.m. to see it all, Lyytinen and Jenniskens recommend.

Don’t be late, or you might miss it. And the scientists caution the meteor shower could not happen at all.

But assuming there is some kind of shower, AccuWeather reports nearly all of Minnesota will have good viewing conditions for the meteor shower. Only the Arrowhead and southeastern regions will have a slightly worse view.

Jenniskens told EarthSky that people should look eastward to see the shower and try to view it from some place dark.

“Even if you just see a few of these meteors,” he told EarthSky, “that is very special.”