Apparently the Perseid meteor shower which will come across the skies tonight has been happening every August since the Middle Ages.
In medieval Europe, this meteor display became known as the fiery “Tears of St. Lawrence”. The story of why is told at One-Minute Astronomer:
In 258 A.D., to distract the masses from constant war under his reign, the Roman emperor Valerian ordered the merciless execution of dozens of leaders of the Catholic church. Among those martyred was one of the seven deacons of Rome, Laurentius, just 33 years old. The Roman authorities, rarely subtle, tortured Laurentius by roasting him alive on an iron stove. Though doomed, Laurentius taunted his captors and cried out, “I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.”
With that brave comment, Laurentius, now called St. Lawrence, became the patron saint of comedians. But the date he died, August 10, was also known throughout the world for an annual display of meteors or “shooting stars”.
The Perseid shower is the most spectacular because there are more than 108 meteors an hour. I wonder where they’re all going to end up? Perhaps Superman will be in one of them? Or Perseus?
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