The Perseids are a spectacular meteor shower, distinguished by their spectacular blue-white coloration. They parent celestial body is the comet Swift–Tuttle. Scientists note that each year around mid-August our planet passes by debris left by this comet.
When the detritus winds up in Earth's atmosphere, they burn up. The result is the formation of tails of light which are exceptionally picturesque. People have been observing the Perseids for thousands of years. In the countries of Western Europe, this phenomenon is also known as the Tears of St. Lawrence.
The reason for this is that the night of their peak corresponds to the holiday of St. Lawrence in the Catholic church calender. The meteor shower is best visible on the night of the 12th going into the 13th, although shooting stars are visible on other days around this date.
The Perseids owe their name to the fact that when viewed from Earth, the meteor shower appears to come from the Perseus constellation. It, in turn, is named after the famous hero from Ancient Greek mythology.
The famed Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danaë (daughter of king Acrisius). He would wear winged sandals on his feet and carry a sword, given to him by Hermes. In Ancient Greek mythology, Perseus was known for his many adventures.
Among these was the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa and the rescuing of Andromeda from the sea monster, which Hades had sent to punish her mother. Even though these legends have little in common with the meteor shower, anyone who has seen it can surely say that it is no less exciting than Greek mythology.
Scientists point out that the Perseids were best visible in August 1992. Back then, the comet Swift–Tuttle was at its closest to the Sun. With time they became ever fainter to see, since the comet moved further away. Still, astronomers advise us how to best observe the phenomenon.
To fully enjoy a meteor shower, we need to get out of the large metropolitan areas, get up in a high spot and face north. That's the perfect moment to wish for something positive, since according to legends, shooting stars make wishes come true.