Thank you for joining our Taurid Meteor Shower Chat today! We enjoyed your questions and interest. We are signing off for now. Keep looking up!

The Taurid Meteor Shower is visible for the next couple weeks, producing few but brighter-than-usual meteors and occasional fireballs. This year marks also marks a “swarm” or a rate increase of visible meteors, which are fragments of Comet Encke, a 3-mile-wide chunk of ice and rock that circles the sun every 3.3 years. These fragments can be fairly large, which explains why they produce such bright meteors.

Answering your questions today are:

  • Dr. Bill Cooke: NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office

  • Rhiannon Blaauw: NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office

  • Danielle Moser: NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office


  • Janet Anderson: Public Affairs Officer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Janet Sudnik: Media Specialist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Will Bryan: Media Specialist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Jennifer Harbaugh: Media Specialist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Christopher Blair: Media Specialist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Learn more about NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at:

Follow the Meteoroid Office on social media at

Follow NASA Marshall on Twitter at


Comments: 421 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

spicypepperoni236 karma

Are meteors like space's way to send earth little kisses?

NASAMarshallMoon437 karma

If you define a kiss as being about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and moving a 65,000 miles per hour, then sure! - BC

NASAMarshallMoon136 karma

If you want to look at it like that, then space is very, VERY affectionate. ;-) -DM

NASAMarshallMoon120 karma

I like to consider them nature's fireworks. :-) -RB

x_Thorn_x121 karma

Hi there,

Is there a chance of any of these fragments surviving their trip through the atmosphere and doing damage anywhere?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

P.S. And as a student with a required job shadow coming up, are people at NASA, maybe even any of you, open to the idea of being job shadowed by interested students? :)

NASAMarshallMoon163 karma

Yes. Only two meteor showers are capable of producing meteorites on the ground: the Taurids (at the end of Oct./early Nov.) and the Geminids (in mid-Dec.). As of yet, we haven't found meteorites from either of these showers, but calculations show it is possible for them to put meteorites on the ground. - BC

dpcaxx88 karma

calculations show it is possible for them to put meteorites on the ground. - BC

So how would you describe the chances of successfully catching a Tuarid meteorite with a baseball mitt?

NASAMarshallMoon96 karma

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. - BC

Wisdom_of_the_Apes6 karma

What will be learned when we find a chunk of the Taurids shower?

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

Since the Taurids come from Comet Encke, a Taurid meteorite would be a piece of that comet, which will give us some idea of its composition - without having to go there! - BC

NASAMarshallMoon92 karma

I'm not entirely sure but I don't think that NASA has a job shadowing program. But we do have an internship program. Check out -DM

eaphilipp87 karma

What will be the best time to see the meteor shower? I am in Minnesota. How many will there be per hour?

NASAMarshallMoon90 karma

The best time to view the Taurids is from midnight to 3 a.m., local time. There should be a handful per hour. Taurid rates are not high, but the ones you will see will be very bright. - BC

GrantMK80 karma

Thanks for doing this, I love stopping in to read NASA AMAs. My question is what kind of risk/prevention do space travel missions and space stations have for occurrences like Taurid and other potential impact scenarios?

NASAMarshallMoon101 karma

For most meteor showers, spacecraft are well enough designed that they don't have to take special precautions. Only for a meteor storm (rates over 1,000 per hour) do spacecraft have to take protective steps. These can include: 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.

Space Station is armored against orbital debris, and this provides more than adequate protection against meteoroids, so we don't worry about it. - BC

NewSwiss12 karma

Space Station is armored against orbital debris, and this provides more than adequate protection against meteoroids, so we don't worry about it. - BC

If it isn't classified, could you provide more details here? It's my understanding that the velocities involved in an orbital collision are on the of order 5 km/s. I would think it would take some very thick armor to stop projectiles heavier than a few mg...?

proceedasifsober3 karma

Actually, they use layered shielding called a whipple shield, if i remember correctly. The outer layer stops most small/slower debris. In the event that the outer layer is punctured, it is designed so that the impacting object is split apart and slowed by the collision. By the time it reaches the second layer, it will have lost too much of its penetrating ability to actually cause damage, and is stopped entirely by the second layer.

The idea is that these objects are capable of creating immense pressure because they are so small, but do not have a huge amount of kinetic energy due to their low mass. So, by breaking apart the object, its effective area is increased and it can no longer penetrate walls because the same small amount of energy is spread about a larger area, even if it still travels at high speeds.

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

Good explanation, but meteoroids do carry a fair amount of kinetic energy for their size. If you were hit by a 1 mm diameter Leonid, it would be like being shot by a .357 magnum. This is one reason why NASA carefully looks at the meteoroid and orbital debris environments before sending astronauts out on EVA. - BC

lazybikedork71 karma

Are any of these meteors going to be large enough to be seen in the daylight hours?

NASAMarshallMoon79 karma

There is a remote chance, but it is a very remote chance. It would take a very big/bright Taurid to be seen during the day! -RB

user_my_name52 karma

Will I be able to use the Star Walk app and figure out where to look?

NASAMarshallMoon146 karma

You can use the Star Walk app to determine if the constellation Taurus has risen or not. If Taurus can be seen in the sky then Taurid meteors may be visible. BUT-you shouldn't stare at Taurus to observe the shower. You want to just lay on your back and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. -DM

rasmusxp47 karma

Will it be visible from all around the world?

NASAMarshallMoon75 karma

Yes, the Taurids can be seen around the world! They can be seen now through the first couple weeks of November. You can see them anytime after dark… but are best seen between midnight and 3 am local time! If you can see the constellation Taurus, you are able to see Taurids… but the higher Taurus is in your sky, the better the rates will be. -RB

renabunny32 karma

What will the meteor shower look like if you watch it from outer space?

NASAMarshallMoon83 karma

Check out this picture of a Perseid meteor imaged from the Space Station! -DM

NASAMarshallMoon55 karma

The difference is that you would look down, rather than up. Imagine yourself on the Space Station looking out through the windows of the cupola - you would look down on the Earth and you would see these streaks. The big difference is your perspective. - BC

Thengine13 karma

How does ISS deal with the chances of a direct hit from these specs?

NASAMarshallMoon34 karma

ISS has armor that can stop a meteoroid a couple of inches in diameter. So, the odds of it being hit by something larger than this are very, very small. -BC

1nsaneMfB30 karma

I have seen a documentary where scientists successfully calculated a meteor's trajectory, and actually found the fragments of said meteor on the ground.

Are any of the meteors from the Taurid Meteor swarm candidates for such an expedition?

NASAMarshallMoon47 karma

Yes - this has happened a number of times, where the meteor's trajectory was calculated and then a fragment was found! There are no known Taurids to be meteorite producers, but it would be very exciting if we ever recorded a Taurid which survived its passage to the ground, and we were able to find it. This would be significant as we would be recovering a piece of a comet! The Taurids and the Geminids are the only two meteor showers which our calculations have indicated are strong enough & slow enough & low enough to produce meteorites. -RB

1nsaneMfB15 karma

That is so awesome! Thank you for this AMA!

NASAMarshallMoon19 karma

You are so welcome! -RB

MeandersOffTopic29 karma

Are the Taurids the fastest known meteor shower?

I think I read the Leonids come in at 30,000 MPH, but when we are talking speed I know it is all relative, of course.

But, am I right in that the Taurids tend to have more rock than other showers, like the Leonids, which are normally just specks of ice? And if so, does this affect the speed in space and thus make them hit our atmosphere at a higher velocity?


NASAMarshallMoon82 karma

No, in fact the Taurids are relatively slow, moving 60,000 to 65,000 mph. The Leonids are the fastest, moving 160,000 mph. The speed of these showers is determined by the encounter geometry -- how the orbits of the meteoroid stream and Earth intersect -- and the orbit of the parent body. To put the Taurid speed in perspective, Taurids are about 250 times faster than a Peregrine falcon during a dive. Or, they're about 100 times faster than the Millennium Falcon's max atmospheric speed (according to Wookieepedia). :-) Both the Taurid and Leonid parent bodies are comets, and the majority of the Taurid and Leonid meteoroids are small specks of dust/ice. But large particles are known to exist in the Taurid stream (the old Apollo seismometers located on the moon actually registered minute tremors from Taurid meteoroid impacts!). And the Taurid stream contains the strongest shower meteoroids, next to the Geminids. -DM

MeandersOffTopic25 karma

Oh awesome, I was dead wrong about the Leonids, today I learned!

NASAMarshallMoon22 karma

Great!! -DM

MeandersOffTopic9 karma

Follow up...

Any idea or prediction about possible swarm rates?

I watched the Leonids in 1999 and it was awesome during the peak, any chance of anything that spectacular?

NASAMarshallMoon20 karma

No, it sadly won't be spectacular like the Leonids, rate-wise. But there may be some bright fireballs. Based on the activity of the Taurid swarm in 2005, at swarm peak around Nov 1/2 you might see a zenith hourly rate of 15 per hour. (This is a rate under ideal conditions.) Realistically, the rate will probably be lower than that -- a handful per hour perhaps. -DM

prioritize23 karma

Do you believe Comet Encke to possibly be associated with the 1908 Tunguska Event? Thanks for doing this AMA!

NASAMarshallMoon25 karma

This has been proposed before… whether I believe it… well, I am skeptical. :-) There is no definitive connection. -RB

NASA_wbryan22 karma

What is a "swarm"? How is it different from a meteor shower?

NASAMarshallMoon23 karma

Great question! The Taurid 'swarm' years are when there are an increased number of very bright meteors. The overall rate of the Taurids isn't anything special… doesn't get anywhere close to the Perseids or Geminids, but the Taurids you will see will likely be quite spectacular. -RB

NASA_wbryan9 karma

Thanks for your quick reply! You guys are awesome!

NASAMarshallMoon11 karma

You are welcome! -RB

muklan21 karma

Are you aware that "taurid meteor swarm" would make a totally metal band name?

NASAMarshallMoon41 karma

You might consider "taurid fireball swarm" too. -DM

man31420 karma

Hey! High school student very interested in astronomy here!

Assuming that the heat death of the universe theory's date is correct, what would happen to remote comets and asteroids in space? Would that long time eventually cause all motion of comets and asteroids to slow down, or would they all eventually break apart into millions of pieces smaller than what we could see? Have comets and asteroids showed different behavior in movement patterns since we have kept observations?

Thanks for your time!

NASAMarshallMoon26 karma

Any comet orbiting the sun will eventually lose its volatiles (ice) leaving only a rocky core. In the big picture, if the universe continues to expand forever, eventually, even atoms will decay, leaving behind nothing. But, nothing is unstable, so a new universe could possibly form.

As far as movement patterns, comets and asteroids follow the paths we expect them to, considering gravity and other forces like jetting from the comets. No surprises there. -BC

man31411 karma

Thanks for that quick response!

Follow up question:

You said that nothing is unstable, but how exactly do we know that "nothing" is unstable? And with "nothing" at equilibrium, would that not be the most stable form of "nothing"? Sorry if I'm completely wrong here, I obviously don't know as much as you guys :)

NASAMarshallMoon23 karma

The concurrent notion of how the universe formed is based on mathematics that show pure nothing is not stable. It's way above my head, but if you have a big university nearby, you might talk to a cosmologist who can explain it far better than I. -BC

man3147 karma

Will do! Thanks again for the answers! Final question, does the Fireball Network currently offer opportunities for high school students to intern? I would love to get into one of these programs if it were possible

NASAMarshallMoon13 karma

We currently only taken interns that are in college/university. Maybe when you reach university you can apply? I love your enthusiasm! -RB

NASAMarshallMoon10 karma

There are some internship opportunities for students in high school. Check out The internship eligibility section mentions "NASA internships are available to high school through graduate level students." -DM

Thundanicka9 karma

BTW, thanks for the link.Shot in the dark... I'm, 45, back in school, 2 years into my Bachelor's in Computer Information Technology, is my degree relevant and my age a factor?

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

For a NASA internship? The degree is relevant if there are internships available that would utilize those skills when you apply/at the center you apply to. I don't think age is a factor (just in case, read the eligibility info carefully). -DM

AyZeus17 karma

Where do you guys recommend viewing for someone also in the Huntsville area?

NASAMarshallMoon17 karma

Anywhere fairly dark works, away from lights shining directly on you. You could try Monte Sano State Park, I suppose, if you want to make an event out of it. I plan just to lay out on a sleeping bag in my backyard. Easy for me to get to and back in case the meteors are a no-show, the skies decide to open up again, or if I start yearning for a comfortable bed. -DM

AHurriedDog14 karma

Is there any chance that a large chunk would break off and join the meteor showers in the future?

NASAMarshallMoon23 karma

Comet Encke is the parent of the Taurids. It's a very dusty comet, and is still ejecting material. Most of the ejected material measures a few inches across. Not very big, but these chunks will produce fireballs as bright as the moon in Earth's atmosphere. -BC

Toddler_Fight_Club12 karma

Hello, and thank you for fielding questions. What is the approximate probability that people will die as a result of one or more of these meteors?

NASAMarshallMoon31 karma

Only three people in recorded history have been struck by meteorites: A lady in Alabama, a monk in medieval Italy, and a child in Africa. No fatalities in any of these events, though the lady in Alabama had to seek medical attention from severe bruising. -BC

prioritize11 karma

What materials make up the Taurid meteoroids? What is the origin of the meteoroids?

EDIT: spelling

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

The Taurid meteoroids are pieces of comet Encke! The current theory on comet Encke and the Taurids is that thousands of years ago (likely ~20,000 years), a giant comet broke up, creating the Taurid stream. Comet Encke is a piece of this larger comet, which is still orbiting the Sun every 3.3 years. -RB

jimmym00710 karma

But what if, after 3 hours of watching, I have no more wishes?

NASAMarshallMoon10 karma

Ha! At that point, just take it all in and enjoy the show! -RB

NASAMarshallMoon8 karma

There will be more meteors tomorrow night, hence more wishes! - BC

mbcarl8 karma

How many meteors per hour (mph) will be seen in this shower, approximately?

NASAMarshallMoon8 karma

The Taurid meteor shower is a modest one. At the peak (Oct 10/11 and Nov 12/13), you'd just see a few per hour. During the Taurid swarm (last week of October, first two weeks of November) you may see a handful per hour, including some bright Taurid fireballs. -DM

RS_Tuvok8 karma

What makes working at NASA exciting?

As a kid, it's the awesome rockets blasting off, but what now?

NASAMarshallMoon18 karma

Being apart of exploring space! I mean, NASA is working on sending people to Mars! How cool is that?! Rockets blasting off is awesome, too. I was able to see the final Shuttle launch in 2011 which was amazing. It is an honor to be apart of this Agency. -RB

NASAMarshallMoon16 karma

There are endless opportunities for exploration. And lots of projects to get excited about. It's also nice to be surrounded by hard-working, technically-oriented people that are also excited about their work. -DM

NASAMarshallMoon12 karma

I get to come into work and look at rocks burning up in the atmosphere every morning. That's pretty exciting! - BC

smokeygun7 karma

What are the best times for meteor viewing if you live in Texas?

Thanks! I love the things NASA does. :)

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

Between midnight and 3 a.m. your local time!

m1g1k17 karma

What sort of rock or mineral are the meteors made of? Does a meteor's composition have any effect on whether it burns up in the atmosphere or makes it to earth?

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

The Taurids are made of pieces of comet Encke - which is a 'dirty snowball' - a mixture of ice and dust with some organic chemicals. A meteoroid's composition DOES have an effect on whether it makes it to the ground or not. Asteroidal meteoroids (such as the Geminids, which come from asteroid 3200 Phaethon), are much stronger & more dense than cometary meteoroids. Thus meteoroids that come from asteroids are much more likely to survive their passage through the atmosphere and make it to the ground as a meteorite. In fact, all meteorites collected have asteroidal composition. This doesn't mean that it is impossible for cometary material to make it to the ground, but much less likely. -RB

ScienceLabTech7 karma

What is the average "lifespan" of a meteor shower? Obviously we have a comet sending off bits of itself every time it passes close to a sun... how many years (millennia?) does this occur before a comet breaks up too much to continue its cycle around the sun, or happens to intersect some other planetary body?

NASAMarshallMoon7 karma

It depends on the meteor shower. In the case of the Taurids, the stream of material that causes the shower has been around for 10,000-20,000 years and the shower has been seen since the 18th century. In the case of the Geminids, which is the strongest meteor shower, they were not seen until the 1830s, and have been increasing in strength since. Eventually, that stream of material will move away from the Earth (because of the pull of Jupiter's gravity) and there will be no Geminid meteor shower.

As far as a comet lifetime, that depends on the size and the orbit of the comet. Short-period comets like Giacobini-Zinner exhaust their ices after several hundred passages around the sun. Comets that are in more extended orbits can take millions of years before they become inert. -BC

InsanityB33Z6 karma

What's the average amount of Meteoroids or Meteorites that actually make it to the Earth's surface.

Also, I just want to say, I'm really inspired by the beauty and the greatness of space and would like to be one day an Astronomer or Astro-Physicist. Do you have any advice for me to reach my dream career?

NASAMarshallMoon14 karma

• Make sure your math and science skills are solid and you enjoy both subjects. You’ll need them to get through college for an astronomy or physics degree. And you’ll need them in the workplace. • Don’t overlook writing and speaking skills. As a scientist, you’ll need to be able to communicate your research – what you did, how you did it, what your conclusions were, etc. – in presentations and papers. Additionally, some funding for research is dependent on being able to write good proposals. • Be able to work by yourself and with a team. Some work will have you sitting at a computer by yourself working on research. In other work you might be part of a data processing pipeline where you’ll need to work closely with others. • Be prepared to be in school awhile – you’ll probably pursue a Masters and PhD. You can get jobs with a bachelors. But if you want to stay and work in academia (e.g. doing research at a university) you’ll probably need an advanced degree. • Pursue research experiences in astronomy/physics as an undergraduate. Check out the NASA internships and REU experiences. Some programs take high school seniors. These research experiences will give you a good idea what research is about and whether you want to do that. • Get involved with a local astronomy club and/or planetarium. You’ll learn a lot. • Astronomy isn’t just about observing with a telescope and taking pretty pictures. (Btw, a lot of observing is done remotely now – you command the telescope online. ) You have to do something with the data you collect. That’s where the math & science skills come in. • Astronomy is typically broken up into 2 general categories: Observational and Theoretical. You’ll probably gravitate to one of these more than the other, but make sure you look into both. • Learn some computer programming. It will help you analyze data and/or create and test models. • Some of this advice may seem overwhelming. “I have to know what subjects?!” ”I have to be in school that long?!” But just take things step by step.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help when at school or figuring out your career path. Ask lots of questions of lots of people. -DM

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

Estimates vary, but the Earth intercepts about 100 metric tons per day of meteoritic material.

As far as becoming an astronomer, my advice is to like math, because you will use it a lot. - BC

InsanityB33Z2 karma

I would like to find a meteorite, if one is big enough and slow enough, it would make my day.

So far I am a straight A student in math. So that will not be a problem.

NASAMarshallMoon4 karma

Your best chance at finding a meteorite is in the arctic or desert! A black rock just lying on the surface has a much higher chance of being a meteorite than finding a black rock in a forest in Alabama. -RB

obsessedwithpenguins6 karma

I'll be on my honeymoon in Patagonia in a few days... I'm wondering if anyone can assist me to find out if there's a chance of seeing it that far south? In a place that's notreally affected by light pollution. No amount of google-fu is helping with this answer.

NASAMarshallMoon5 karma

Patagonia, Argentina? Yes, you can, though the rates may not be as high. If it is far away from light pollution I bet the stars are going to be gorgeous there. And congrats on your marriage! -RB

iOSbrogrammer6 karma

As a fellow Madison County person, how do you feel about food trucks and what's your favorite local brewery?

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

I like the food trucks and the variety of food they serve. It's a nice way to try new things without going very far. The trucks definitely give me options at lunch time. I've also gone to the street food gatherings for breakfast on Saturday (gets me out of bed) and the Friday night events complete with entertainment (and long lines, unfortunately). Jeesh, this is making me hungry! No favorite brewery, sorry -- perhaps you have a recommendation? -DM

Thundanicka5 karma

I remember watching "Gravity" awhile ago and thinking, " I wonder if the Astronauts in the ISS watch this like a Halloween special? Guys?

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

I think they are probably too busy to spend a great deal of time looking out the window for meteors. They have a lot to do up there! - BC

northrupthebandgeek4 karma

How far above an ideal horizon will I need to be looking to watch them? I live in a bunch of mountains that tend to get in the way of such things.

NASAMarshallMoon5 karma

You want to look straight up and take in as much sky as possible, so the mountains in your neck of the woods should not pose much of a problem. -BC

rlvis4 karma

What would you recommend as a wine pairing for watching the meteor shower?

NASAMarshallMoon22 karma

Let me check my wine stellar and get back to you .. (ouch, bad pun ;) )

tontoj4 karma

Thanks for doing this Ask us Anything! I've noticed a naming difference at some sites, the South Taurid and North Taurid, with peaks listed a couple of weeks apart, but can't find a reason for the different names as opposed to labeling them as a single long event. Are there two separate origins for these meteors that just happen to appear around the same time?

I'll certainly be out over the coming weeks trying to get some photos!

NASAMarshallMoon8 karma

Both of these meteor showers originate from comet Encke, but the particles were ejected at different times and have slightly different orbits. As the name implies, the North Taurids appear to radiate from a point slightly farther north in the constellation Taurus than the South Taurids. North Taurids also move about 5,000 miles per hour faster than South Taurids. South Taurids peak in mid-October, whereas North Taurids peak in mid-November. - BC

Accolades40004 karma

What was your 'aha' moment at NASA?

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

When I first started to work, I realized that it is incredibly difficult to design a spacecraft like Space Station that would ensure the safety of the little pink bodies within. -BC

NASAMarshallMoon6 karma

Hmm. I feel like there are a few ways to answer this. If you mean the moment when I realized how cool it was that I worked for NASA, or the significance of what I do? I would probably say this happens every time I go to international conferences, and I realize how what we do fits into the space community as a whole. Another 'I can't believe I get to do this' happened during the big meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia. I was able to spend a lot of time over many months analyzing that event, which was one of the most significant events in the history of my field . -RB

NASAMarshallMoon4 karma

I had been working on meteoroids/meteors for several years -- analyzing data, creating and running models, etc. -- a lot of it somewhat abstract. I knew we cared about these bodies because of their potential to damage spacecraft (and their history of damaging the Olympus and Mariner IV satellites). I guess an "aha" moment came for me when I actually got to look at this damage up close, on returned Hubble hardware and the space shuttle Discovery. It made things more... real for me I suppose. -DM

CysGingerShitlord4 karma

Is it possible that a Chelyabinsk-ish event might occur?

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

Based on what we know now, it is estimated that Chelyabinsk-class events occur once every 50 to 75 years. - BC

postalci953 karma

Can we see the meteor shower in Turkey? Also what will be the best time to see it in Turkey?

NASAMarshallMoon3 karma

Yes, if you've got clear (preferably dark) skies! The Taurid meteor shower can be seen worldwide and it is modestly active for several weeks. The South Taurids usually peak in mid-October; the North Taurids are expected to peak in mid-November. Given the behavior of past Taurid swarms, increased fireball activity may be seen during the last week of October and the first two weeks of November. The best time to look for Taurids is in the hours after midnight, say 12 am – 3 am local time, when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky. -DM

mbcarl3 karma

NASA, NASA! I need your expert advice :)

I went searching for meteorites on a dry lake bed outside of Las Vegas, NV a few months ago and found several possible meteorites. All of them are magnetic. I am having a hard time figuring out which of these are actual meteorites, and which are just Earth rocks.

What do you think? (Two photos of the 5 contenders)

NASAMarshallMoon3 karma

That sounds like an excellent area to hunt for meteorites!
We mainly deal with meteoroids and meteors here, not meteorites. That being said, the rocks in your picture don't look meteorites to me, but it is hard to tell. I suggest you take the rocks to a local university with a geology department -- they can help you identify your rocks. -DM

rockpoo3 karma

What are the chances of this meteor shower damaging fatalities or the ISS?

NASAMarshallMoon6 karma

Pretty much, zero. - BC

SuedeRorsarch3 karma

Also, what did you think of the movie, "The Martian"?

NASAMarshallMoon8 karma

I really enjoyed it! I thought it was a great combination of action/adventure, drama, comedy, and science! -DM

CaterpillarHaven3 karma

I'm writing a research paper about why America should encourage space exploration and I need an interview as a source. Is there a way I can contact someone via e-mail to ask them general questions about how the federal budget, new innovations, and resources may play a factor in future exploration? I was going to interview an anatomy professor at my school, but I thought it would be more reliable to ask someone from NASA personally.

NASAMarshallMoon6 karma

You can send your question to the newsroom at NASA HQ - here's a link depending on what topic you are seeking answers to:

iamjerie3 karma

What exactly causes such large fragments to break off from Encke?

NASAMarshallMoon9 karma

As Encke travels in its orbit, it gets close enough to the sun that the ice near the surface goes straight from solid to gas (sublimation). When this happens, you get jets produced, like little geysers, that kick off these chunks from the surface of the comet.

Do an image search for "Rosetta comet" and look at some of the images of the jets photographed by that mission. -BC

Pusta13 karma

This is happening for the next three weeks? So tonight I can go out around 12am and maybe see some meteors?

NASAMarshallMoon4 karma

Yes, the Taurid swarm is best visible between now and mid-November. You can see Taurids after dark, but the best time to look will be between midnight and 3 am local time, since the constellation Taurus (where the meteor shower's radiant is in), will be highest in the sky at that time. -RB

honeyduckling13 karma

Are black holes seen in space? And will Earth ever send anything into one?

NASAMarshallMoon7 karma

No, because there's no contrast between them and the contrast of space. However, we can infer their presence by the gravitational traction they have on nearby stars.

As far as your second question, you would need to come back a few hundred years in the future to find out the answer to that. -BC

AdilB1013 karma

Who are your inspirations?

NASAMarshallMoon15 karma

Dr. Sheldon Cooper. - BC

astrobb2 karma

I am near NASA-AMES. When is the best time to see Taurids and which day(s) will it peak?

NASAMarshallMoon5 karma

The Taurid meteor shower can be seen worldwide and it is modestly active for several weeks. The South Taurids usually peak in mid-October; the North Taurids are expected to peak in mid-November. Given the behavior of past Taurid swarms, increased fireball activity may be seen during the last week of October and the first two weeks of November. The best time to look for Taurids is in the hours after midnight, say 12 am – 3 am local time, when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky. -DM (sorry for the cut and paste)

lordgeezus2 karma

About what altitude are these meteors burning up when they hit the atmosphere? I've wondered if people in the next state over would also see the same meteors I'm seeing. Thanks!

NASAMarshallMoon4 karma

Meteors burn up many miles above our heads. The Taurid meteors we've seen with the NASA All Sky Fireball Network ( are completely disintegrated by a height of about 45 miles. Reports of the same meteor seen from multiple states are quite common. It depends on how bright/big they are. -DM

RemoteViewingTrainee2 karma

How closely has NASA looked at the satelites of Sirius B?

NASAMarshallMoon3 karma

You would need to talk to a stellar astronomer. I'm a meteor guy, so I confine myself to this solar system. - BC

freakshow90092 karma

What damage do one of these masses cause if one of them decides to impact the earth's surface and is it possible at all if that could happen?


NASAMarshallMoon6 karma

The odds of a Taurid making it to the ground are small, but if one did make it, it would likely weigh less than a couple of kilograms. The damage caused by this would be very small (broken car window, etc.). Most people think meteorites are these smoking-hot rocks in the middle of a crater, when the truth is the exact opposite. By the time a meteorite hits ground, it is cool enough to handle, and unless it is really big, there is no crater produced. - BC

SuedeRorsarch2 karma

What do you have to do to work at JPL?

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

Looks like you might find job postings here -DM

skilltroll2 karma

How are these meteors detected before we see them burn up? I'm assuming they are too small to reflect enough light for telescopes to pick them up.

NASAMarshallMoon2 karma

You are right about that. Particles that cause these meteors are not detected before they burn up - but this is OK since they are too small to do any damage. We only detect them when they start to burn up in the atmosphere and produce light. -RB