There's nothing like going outside in the dark and watching meteors streak across the sky. At the end of this month, a meteor shower over Canada will be a rare celestial event that delivers just that. You definitely don't want to miss this!
On the night of November 21 and into the early morning hours of November 22, a rare meteor shower could light up the sky over Canada with 400 meteors an hour.
The alpha Monocerotid meteor shower doesn't usually put on a show like this. So if everything goes as expected, Canadians could be in for a rare sight.
"Normally, the peak of the alpha Monocerotid meteor shower produces maybe one or two meteors per hour. That's quiet enough that this annual meteor shower doesn't get much attention," according to The Weather Network.
The alpha Monocerotid meteor shower outburst has been recorded only four times so far, in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995.
In both 1925 and 1935, the alpha Monocerotid outbursts produced over 1,000 meteors per hour.
In 1985 there were about 700 meteors an hour and in 1995, about 400 an hour were detected.
This has the potential to be a rare event that not many people will be able to say they have seen before.
This meteor shower is rare for another reason too, not just because it occurs so few times. The comet it originates from is actually still unknown to scientists.
On November 21, Earth is expected to pass through a dense but narrow cluster of meteoroids left behind by the unknown comet that produces the alpha Monocerotids.
According to meteor scientists Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen, this meteor shower usually only has one or two meteors an hour.
But this year there could be at least 400 meteors an hour. That's about seven meteors every minute.
Jenniskens and Lyytinen note that the alpha Monocerotids could light up the sky with up to 1,000 meteors an hour.
If that high number of meteors happens, this would actually be a meteor storm, not a meteor shower.
You definitely don't want to be late for this rare celestial event.
The cluster of meteoroids the Earth will pass through is so narrow that the alpha Monocerotids could last for only 15 to 40 minutes.
This meteor shower favours the eastern parts of Canada since time differences could mean battling with the setting sun to be able to see the meteors.
That doesn't mean it's not worth checking out if you're on the west coast.
The meteor shower will be visible from 1:00 a.m. to 1:40 a.m. NST, 12:30 a.m. to 1:10 a.m. AST on November 22.
It will also be visible from 11:30 p.m. on November to 12:10 a.m. EST on November 22.
Further west, you could see the meteor shower from 10:30 p.m. to 11:10 p.m. CST, 9:30 p.m. to 10:10 p.m. MST and 8:30 p.m. to 9:10 p.m. PST on November 21.
To make sure you have the best chances of seeing the meteor shower, check the weather first.
If there will be clear skies where you are, get away from any light pollution.
And, of course, get outside early to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.
This meteor shower can happen so quickly that you'll miss it if you're late.