Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tonight's Sky for November 21: Alpha Monocerotids Peak

Tonight will mark the peak of the Alpha Monocerotid Meteor shower for 2015, thus marking the climax for the 2-week event. Every November, Earth passes through the stretch of space junk shed by a comet of still unknown origin, reaching the deepest concentration of debris tonight. Of all meteor showers, this one is among the weakest, only often producing a few meteors per hour but, curiously, there is a tendency by the Alpha Monocerotids to have outbursts on years ending in 5. Some of these outbursts, while often less than an hour in duration, result in va rate of hundreds of meteors per hour.. The reason the meteors are called Alpha Monocerotids is because the meteors seem to radiate from the constellation Monoceros, specifically its alpha (brightest) star. The best time to view is anytime since Monoceros is up all night.

To improve odds of seeing meteors, travel out of the city and to the country if you can. In the suburbs, just going from the front to back yard can make a dramatic difference as this will eliminate glare from those pesky street/house lights to a large extent.

Unfortunately, this year's peak coincides with the Full Moon. The good news: even the Moon won't be able to drown-out the brightest meteors with all its light..

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