The Perseid meteors appear to stream away from the shower’s “radiant” point near the border of Perseus and Cassiopeia. Under dark-sky conditions, you may see an average of one a minute around the time of the shower’s peak. Sky & Telescope illustration.
The Perseid Meteor Shower or, The Tears of St. Lawrence
Overnight August 11-12, 2012
The Perseus Meteor Shower, or the “Tears of St. Lawrence,” occur every year between late July and August and are known to produce views of 100 meteors in an hour. Of course to see near this number you will need two things in your favor. One, a dark sky location with little light pollution, and two, you will need to have a fairly moonless night going into the morning hours. We have the moonless night, with the 24 day old moon rising at 2:21am. so the best remedy for any lighting issues near you, is to drive out to locate a remote spot to watch the shower from.
The material that makes up this shower is debris from Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle which was discovered in 1862. Between the years 1864 and 1866, noted Astronomer Schiaparelli performed computations examining the orbit of Swift-Tuttle and found a strong resemblance to the meteor shower. This was the first time a meteor shower had been positively identified as being the debris produced by a comet.
But what does St. Lawrence have to do with a meteor shower? St. Lawrence was a deacon of the Roman Church, he was also one of the many victims of persecution by the Roman Emperor Valerian. In 258AD, Valerian issued an edict that all bishops, priests, and deacons should be immediately put to death. On August 10th, St. Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, was also put to death. St. Lawrence is the patron Saint of librarians, archivists, cooks – due to the way of his death, and deacons.
According to Folklore, one is to make a wish, or perhaps say a prayer when they see a falling star and it was better yet to make a wish and invoke St. Lawrence to pray along with you upon seeing the falling star. The falling stars of the Perseids, occurring around the same time as St. Lawrence Martyrdom, were looked upon as his tears and Psalms 8. Domine, Dominus noster seemed appropriate to think of when watching the Tears of St. Lawrence.
Psalms 8. Domine, Dominus noster.
O LORD our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world; * thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens!
2 Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, * that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I consider thy heavens, even the work of thy fingers; * the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? * and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 Thou madest him lower than the angels, * to crown him with glory and worship.
6 Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands; * and thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet:
7 All sheep and oxen; * yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; * and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD our Governor, * how excellent is thy Name in all the world!