'Tears of St. Lawrence' meteor shower to peak at weekend

Aug 11, 2012
Perseid meteors streak across the sky near Rogers Spring in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada in 2008. The annual Perseid meteor shower -- dubbed "the tears of St. Lawrence" in honour of a martyred Christian saint -- reaches its peak this weekend.

The annual Perseid meteor shower -- dubbed "the tears of St. Lawrence" in honour of a martyred Christian saint -- reaches its peak this weekend, astronomers said on Friday.

Cloud-free skies permitting, the show of should be an above-average spectacle this year as the Moon is in a waning, crescent phase and so will cast relatively little light.

The are named after the constellation of Perseus from which they appear to fly out.

The come from dust shed by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which swings around the Solar System every 130 years, depositing the material in Earth's orbit as it nears the Sun.

As Earth races around the Sun, the grains smash into the atmosphere at around 60 kilometres (37 miles) per second, burning up in streaks of light.

Occasionally, longer and brighter streaks are seen, and these come from pea- or marble-sized remnants of the comet.

The shower is best visible in the , and should reach a peak between 1200 GMT and 1430 GMT on Sunday, according to the International Meteor Organisation (http://www.imo.net/).

St. Lawrence was an early Christian deacon, Laurentius, who was tortured to death by the Romans in AD 258, and whose saint's day of August 10 coincides with the Perseids buildup.

According to legend, Laurentius was martyred outdoors on a grill. During his suffering, he is said to have quipped defiantly to his persecutors: "Turn me over -- I am done on this side!"

He is the patron saint of cooks.

Explore further: NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Perseid Meteors in 2012

Aug 08, 2012

This year’s Perseid meteor shower, already in progress, continues until about August 24th. The peak of activity is expected to occur around midday on August 12th, with a possible all-sky maximum of perhaps 50–100 ...

The Perseids are Coming

Aug 10, 2009

Splat! There goes another bug on the windshield. Anyone who's ever driven down a country lane has seen it happen. A fast moving car, a cloud of multiplying insects, and a big disgusting mess.

2012 Perseid Meteor Shower

Aug 10, 2012

On the nights of Aug. 11th through 13th, the best meteor shower of the year will fill pre-dawn skies with hundreds of shooting stars. And that's just for starters. The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up ...

First glimpses from the Perseid meteor shower

Aug 13, 2007

Enthusiastic observers were rewarded by a nice display of the Perseid meteor shower that was visible at its best in the night between 12 and 13 August 2007. We present glimpses of the spectacle and the scientific ...

Recommended for you

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

1 hour ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

4 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

flashgordon
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
who cares if the christians have decided to rename the Perseid meteor shower? Unless, of course, you're a christian!