Thursday night could big night for meteor showers if weather conditions cooperate, and at this point at least, the National Weather Service is predicting mostly clear skies for Thursday night, Nov. 21, in Grand Forks.
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, a “brief bevy” of shooting stars could streak out of the east-southeast sky Thursday night when the Alpha Monocerotid meteor shower is due to reach its peak.
And while people may have never heard of this meteor shower, this year it might be worth checking out.
The expectation is that Earth will plow through a dense, albeit narrow trail of dusty material left behind by a comet, the Farmers’ Almanac predicts. When tiny pieces of dust or debris called “meteoroids” enter Earth’s atmosphere, they heat up and glow, producing the effect popularly known as “shooting stars.”
Here’s more from the Farmers’ Almanac about the expected meteor shower:
The comet responsible for Thursday’s potential sky show has never previously been sighted, but it apparently has left circumstantial evidence of its existence based on four previous Earth encounters with the river of cosmic rubble it has left in its wake.
In 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995, meteors were sighted on the nights of Nov. 21-22. According to one report from Spain in 1995, bright meteors “Suddenly burst across the sky . . . falling left and right, up and down.” But in less than an hour, the show was over.
Now, based on new calculations made earlier this month by two reputable meteor experts, another brief meteor “outburst” is expected late Thursday night. Outbursts are very short but intense meteor showers, and this year, it's looking likely for this kind of activity.
To best see these fiery streaks of light, the Farmers’ Almanac suggests trying to get away from city lights, bundle up and face toward the east-southeast while fixing your eyes on no single part of the sky. The expected meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you trace their paths backwards, they should all seem to emanate close to Procyon, a bright yellowish-white star in the constellation Canis Minor.
For observers in the Central time zone, the peak should come at 10:50 p.m.
Meteor activity should quickly rev-up after 10:30 and conceivably could be all but over by 11:10 p.m. It will be that quick, the Farmers’ Almanac predicts.
All we need now is a reasonably clear sky on Thursday night, and according to the National Weather Service, that’s exactly what’s in the cards for Grand Forks.