Home Science Space Prepare for the 2010 Perseid meteor shower

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The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak on August 12-13, 2010. Do you know why they are also sometimes called 'the tears of St. Lawrence'?



The Perseid meteor shower is a stream of debris along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet orbits the Sun in an approximate 130-year period of time.

Debris continues to come off of the comet as it approaches the Sun during its orbits. However, most of the material within the Perseids is very old--thousands of years in age.

The shower will be seen centered about the constellation Perseus'”that is, its radiant lies within Perseus so you'll see the comets coming out of this constellation.

The Perseids have been seen by humans for over 2,000 years. Many of the first reports of the meteor shower came from eastern Asia.

And, to answer the question as to why the Perseids are sometimes called 'the tears of St. Lawrence,' well, August 10th is the date of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, which has been tied with the meteor shower for many, many years.

St. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Rome (c. 225-258 AD), was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome (Italy) that was martyred during the persecution of Roman emperor Publius Licinius Valerianus (Valerian I) in the year 258 AD.

The Perseus meteor shower is visible now, and has been visible from around the middle of July. Its peak is expected to occur on the evening of August 12 and the early morning hours of August 13, 2010.

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University