Remember the Perseids! (The Tears of St. Lawrence)

You might want to put on your calendar the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Here is a note from SpaceWeather.

The Perseid Shower is called the "Tears of St. Lawrence" because it peaks around the time of the Feast of St. Lawerence.

Yet another reason not to tinker with the calendar and feast days … but I digress.

Space Weather News for August 5, 2008


COUNTDOWN TO THE PERSEIDS: The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks one week from today, on Tuesday, August 12th. [I will be in Cleveland.] The best time to look is during the dark hours before dawn on Tuesday morning when forecasters expect 50 to 100 meteors per hour.  Get away from city lights if you can; plan a camping trip!  The darker the sky, the more meteors you will see.


The source of the Perseids is Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has littered the August portion of Earth’s orbit with space dust.  The dusty zone is broad and Earth is already in its outskirts.  As a result, even before the peak on August 12th, you may see some "early Perseids" streaking across the night sky. Photos of these early arrivals will be featured in the days ahead on as part of our full coverage of the Perseid meteor shower.


BONUS:  Last Friday’s total solar eclipse is history, but new pictures continue to appear in our photo gallery.  Start browsing here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jay says:

    La Notte Di San Lorenzo!

    “La notte del 10 agosto, ogni anno, gli occhi degli italiani nel mondo si rivolgono speranzosi al cielo, per cogliere al volo una stella cadente.
    Se scientificamente la caduta delle stelle è da imputarsi al passaggio, all’interno dell’orbita visiva terrestre, degli asteroidi della costellazione Perseo (detti appunto Perseidi), culturalmente la pioggia di stelle è stata elaborata in modo più poetico.
    Questa notte è infatti, da tempi immemori, dedicata al martirio di San Lorenzo, dal III secolo sepolto nell’omonima basilica a Roma, e le stelle cadenti sono le lacrime versate dal santo durante il suo supplizio, che vagano eternamente nei cieli, e scendono sulla terra solo il giorno in cui Lorenzo morì, creando un’atmosfera magica e carica di speranza.
    In questa notte, infatti, si crede si possano avverare i desideri di tutti coloro che si soffermino a ricordare il dolore di San Lorenzo, e ad ogni stella cadente si pronuncia la filastrocca “Stella, mia bella stella, desidero che…”, e si aspetta l’evento desiderato durante l’anno.”

  2. joy says:

    These are amazing. When WYD in Denver was in August 1993, we watched the meteor shower for several hours from our host family’s patio. I didn’t know it was an annual event.

    Thanks, Fr. Z, for another WYD memory.

  3. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    Yes, the Perseid shower can be spectacular! I remember seeing them from the top of Fuji in August of 1982 at around three in the morning (I was raised in Japan), just lying on my back after the climb and watching them zip by every minute or so. Last summer I took my oldest son to Japan for his high school graduation present, and we climbed Fuji in the middle of August, and there they were again, the Perseids streaking across the night sky the whole night as we climbed. It was pitch black and we were above the clouds: perfect viewing conditions. Incredible!

  4. Jay:

    My Italian’s pretty rusty, make that non-existent. But if you’re referring to “Saint Lawrence’s tears” the night of August 10th (or is it the night before), I agree.

  5. Deusdonat says:

    David, that’s what the post is referring to. Growing up, I had always known it as “La Notte di San Lorenzo” (there is even a WWII themed movie with that title). This is the first time I have ever heard anything about the Perseids etc.

    This is probably one of the biggest reasons I keep returning to this blog : ) You just never know what you are going to learn here.

  6. Mike Finn says: has a podcast about the Perseid’s that includes an explanation of the story of St Lawrence’s tears. The shower occurs on the night of his martyrdom.

  7. Ed the Roman says:

    An extremely heavy instance of the Perseids is why Alabama has the line on its license plates “Stars Fell on Alabama.\” It was so heavy that the Indians would refer to other events as being before or after the stars fell.

  8. H says:

    50 meteors per hour is almost the usual night here (desert, 6000 feet over sea level)

  9. Luis says:

    Our local planetarium has the following:

    “Greetings, greetings fellow star gazers. Over 1700 years ago on August 10th 258 a.d. a young Christian deacon of Rome was martyred by the Emperor Valerian by being roasted alive on a gridiron. And that night as his mourners carried his body away dozens of streaks of light fell from the sky, which prompted his followers to believe that even the heavens were weeping for their dear friend. And every year since almost to the date the skies weep again on what many call the night of St. Lawrence’s Tears.”

    I think Mr. Horkheimer might be Catholic.. the Musuem is never open on Sunday.

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