by Katie Kausch
Remember that giant asteroid coming super close to Earth on Halloween? It's not going to be this weekend's only cosmic visitor — we also have a meteor shower to look forward to!
This weekend (and into the first few weeks of November) the Taurid Meteor Shower will grace our skies, hopefully giving us a beautiful (and less terrifying) show. The once in a decade event is easy enough to spot: If you can see the Taurus constellation, then you'll probably be able to catch at least a few shooting stars. Not sure how to find the constellation? NASA reccomends using the SkyView app, available in the App Store and Google Play.
Still have more questions? Of course you do! NASA experts like Dr. Bill Cooke and his colleagues were generous enough to answer all of your pressing meteor questions on Reddit, and we've got them here for you.
What causes meteor showers?Getty
When big asteroids, like the one above, come close to the sun, the ice inside of them starts to evaporate, turning the asteroid into something kind of like a popcorn kernel. When the steam pressure gets to be too much, little chunks break off of the asteroid to give us comets.
Are we in danger?
Definitely not. The chances of an asteroid making it through the atmosphere are very small, although not impossible. Dr. Cooke said the chances of catching one with a baseball mitt were "vanishingly small. In the 200 years we have been looking seriously at the Taurids shower, we have yet to find a meteorite produced by one. This should give you an idea of how small your chances are."
The odds of you personally getting hit by an asteroid are also really small. Since scientists have begun tracking these things, only three humans have been hit: "A lady in Alabama, a monk in medieval Italy, and a child in Africa," said Dr. Cooke.
Yeah but what if it defied all the odds and did hit the ground?Getty
Even if it did make it to the Earth's surface, it probably wouldn't do much damage. Chances are, it would weigh a few kilograms (roughly 6 pounds), and could only do enough damage to give your car a super nasty dent. They're also a touchable temperature by the time they reach us, and won't leave any massive, end of dinosaurs style craters in the ground.and since they look like regular rocks, you might even not notice it was there.
Can astronauts in space see the shower?
Yep! Instead of looking up at the sky, they just have to look down at the Earth. The picture above is what the 2009 Perseid meteor shower looked like from the International Space Station.
Well lucky them, but what about me?
Granted, your view might not be as good as an astronauts', but you should still be able to get a good look. All you need to do is find a dark, relatively light-free place between midnight and 3 AM local time anywhere in the world, lay down and look up.
"There should be a handful per hour," Dr. Cooke told Redditors. "Taurid rates are not high, but the ones you will see will be very bright."
Are any special precautions taken to keep the International Space Station Safe?Getty
The ISS is already prepared to deal with meteor showers, so nothing extra has to be done, Cooke explained.
"The Space Station is armored against orbital debris, and this provides more than adequate protection against meteoroids, so we don't worry about it," Dr. Cooke said. Because of how small they are, even if they do hit, they wouldn't do any damage.
If a meteor shower is expected to be particularly strong (more than 1,000 meteoroids per hour), then there are some special steps that have to be taken: "turning their hard side into the oncoming meteoroids (the "nuclear attack" position); turning solar arrays edge-on to the meteors; or shutting down high-voltage."
And the most important question of them all: Are meteors like space's way to send Earth little kisses?Getty
"If you define a kiss as being about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and moving a 65,000 miles per hour," Dr. Cooke said, "then sure!"
That's good enough for us. ?