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Researchers have predicted that tonight (Nov. 21), an ultrabright meteor outburst might speckle the sky with a dazzling performance. But a NASA scientist is pretty sure that you won't see anything spectacular in the sky tonight.
Researchers Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen have predicted that, beginning at around 11:50 pm EST (0350 GMT) tonight, the rate of meteors falling per hour in the night sky could be as high as 400 to 1,000. But, while people are getting excited about the prediction, Bill Cooke, who leads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a recent blog post, "I now think there is a pretty good chance there may be no outburst at all. And even if there is, it won’t be as impressive as many think."
Meteor - Spectacle - Jenniskens - Lyytinen - Tonight
The meteor spectacle that Jenniskens and Lyytinen predict will dazzle tonight is an outburst of the alpha Monocerotid meteor shower (AMOs). According to the two researchers, based on the history of this meteor shower, which resulted in outbursts in years that included 1925, 1935 and 1995, the AMOs are created by a long period comet that orbits the sun every 500 years, Cooke explained in his post. If this is right, Earth will pass through the center of the meteor stream, resulting in an eventful shower in the sky.
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Cooke - Intensity - Outburst - Size - Parent
"However," Cooke said, "the intensity of the outburst is very dependent on the size of the parent comet’s orbit. If it is much smaller, or larger, the distance from the stream center will be bigger, and there will not be any sky show, just the normal AMOs, puttering along with their normal rate of 3 or so meteors per hour. And since we have not yet discovered this mysterious parent...
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