Space Enthusiasts Preparing for Meteor Outburst Thursday Night - NBC Chicago
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Space Enthusiasts Preparing for Meteor Outburst Thursday Night

The meteor shower is expected start around 11:50 p.m. ET Thursday

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    Space Enthusiasts Preparing for Meteor Outburst Thursday Night
    Soner Kilinc/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    In this Aug. 13, 2019, photo, Perseid meteors streak across the night sky over the ancient city of Mesotimolos in Esme district of Turkey's western Usak province. Visitors observed 60 to 80 meteors that were visible with the naked eye.

    Scientists are predicting a rare meteor outburst this week that may be brief but incredibly intense.

    A brilliant flurry in the sky near the Unicorn constellation is expected Thursday night around 11:50 p.m. ET over the eastern half of North America and all South America. The action should unfold early Friday morning over the western portions of Europe and Africa.

    The event will likely peak at the 15 minute mark, with the entire shower lasting 40 minutes. 

    Hundreds of shooting stars may be visible as Earth plows through the dusty tail of an unidentified comet.

    The alpha Monocerotids — named after the constellation Monoceros or the Unicorn — most recently produced an outburst in 1995.

    NASA's Ames Research Center scientist Peter Jenniskens and the Finnish Fireball Networks' Esko Lyytinen anticipate another good show. They encourage stargazers to look up, but get out early because peak viewing time is short.