Perseid meteor shower tonight: Can I still see the Perseids?

Officially, the Perseid meteor shower peaked over the nights of August 11 and 12, providing up to 50 shooting stars an hour. However, the debris field of Comet Swift-Tuttle, the space rock which supplies the Perseids, is massive, and it actually takes Earth over a month to make its way through.

Can I still see the Perseid Meteor Shower?

Earth began travelling through the specks of ice and dust, which are the shooting stars we see, on July 17, and will not be fully out until August 24.

So you are still able to see the shooting stars tonight, and up until August 24, but the Perseid meteors are becoming less frequent by the day as the debris field becomes less congested.

The Royal Greenwich Observatory said: “In 2020 the Perseid meteor shower is active between 17 July and 24 August, with the number of meteors increasing every night until it reaches a peak in mid-August, after which it will tail off.

“The radiant of the Perseids is actually always above the horizon as seen from the UK, which means that observers in the UK should be able to see some meteors as soon as the Sun sets. Therefore, it is worth looking up in the early evening.

“It is always favourable to try and spot meteors when the Moon is below the horizon or when it is in its crescent phase, because otherwise it will act as a natural light pollution and will prevent the fainter meteors from being visible.”

The meteors originate from the constellation of Perseus, which gives it its name.

However, the spectacular meteor shower also has biblical connotations.

St Lawrence’s day falls on August 10 and this is why Catholics associate the shooting stars with fiery tears.

St Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks, was tortured and martyred by the Romans in AD 258 during the persecution of the emperor Valerian along with many other members of the Roman clergy.

During his torture, St Lawrence was said to have been burned on a grill, and despite the extreme pain he was enduring, he supposedly quipped: “Turn me over – I am done on this side!”

As he was executed on August 10, many Catholics associate the Perseid meteor shower with St Lawrence and dub the shooting stars as the “tears of St Lawrence” as they occur at the same time each year.

Astronomy website Slooh said: “In medieval Europe, the Perseids were called the ‘Tears of St Lawrence’ because they occur near the anniversary of the death of Laurentius, a Christian deacon who was martyred by the Roman Emperor Valerian in the year 258 AD.”

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