Table Talk: The Orionid Meteor Shower

10/19/2012 05:39 pm ET

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

If you’re willing to get up very early this Sunday morning, you might just see some shooting stars.

More accurately, you'll see a meteor shower -- the Orionids, to be exact.

This particular meteor shower is one of two that come from Halley’s Comet, which passes by Earth every 75-76 years. Why exactly does the meteor shower occur? NASA's website explains that “Orionids appear every year around this time when Earth orbits through an area of space littered with debris from the ancient comet,” adding: “Normally, the shower produces 20 or so meteors per hour. The past few years, however, have been much better than usual."

Scientists say the best time to view the meteor shower will be Saturday night and early -- i.e. before dawn -- Sunday morning.

You might be able to find a viewing party -- like this North Carolina "shooting stars sleepover" -- near you, but you can also view the shower from your own backyard. Just turn off the lights (the darker it is, the easier it will be to see the meteors streak across the sky), make sure you bundle up and remember to be patient -- you may not see a lot right away.

Lastly, here’s a 21st-century twist on the age-old experience of looking at the stars: if you have any questions during the meteor shower itself, you can ask a NASA astronomer directly via web chat here.

Questions for discussion:

  • Have you ever seen a shooting star? What did it look like?
  • If you had the chance, would you travel to outer space?
  • How old will you be when Halley’s Comet is visible again -- in 2061?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

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