What’s a more magical event to witness this August than a beautiful display of shooting stars?
If you step outside over the next couple of days, you will be able to clearly see a beautiful astronomical event. This is the time of the year when the Perseid meteor shower will be at its clearest, allowing you to see scores of meteors streak across the sky.
The Perseids were first recorded almost 2,000 years ago in 36 AD, and have continued to be observed and researched since, becoming one of the most well-known meteor showers visible from Earth. The name Perseids comes from the constellation name Perseus, which the shooting stars appear to emerge from, however they actually originate from a cloud of debris left by the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which passes by Earth every 130 years.
While other summer meteor showers are better seen from the Southern Hemisphere, such as the Southern Delta Aquariids, the Perseids are most clearly seen from the Northern Hemisphere. If you live in the UK or Ireland, or other Northern regions such as Europe, North America and Asia, you shouldn’t have any trouble making a wish on these shooting stars!
So when is the best time to view the August meter shower? The shower occurs annually from mid-July to early-September and peaks around the 11th to 13th August. The peak of the August 2023 meteor shower will occur at 8:00am GMT on the 13th of the month. As the Sun will have already risen for those in the United Kingdom, you may want to make the most of the weekend and stay up late so you can see the meteors in the early hours of the morning on Sunday 13th August.
The amount of shooting stars you’ll be able to see has varied over the years, however there are often plenty to spot. As the sturgeon full moon occurs around the 12th and 13th August during some years, fewer meteors will be visible due to the light reflected from the Moon. However, we’re in luck this year as the Perseids peak will occur a few days before the August New Moon, meaning that there won’t be much light in the sky and we could potentially see more than 100 meteors each hour during the meteor shower tonight!
Did you know that in ancient history, Catholics referred to the meteor shower as the “tears of Saint Lawrence”? In August 258 AD, a Roman emperor ordered for all of the bishops, priests and deacons to be executed and for Church property to be seized. Saint Lawrence instead gave the property to poor citizens of Rome and was burned alive on a metal grate as punishment, becoming a martyr. The Catholics believed that Saint Lawrence’s tears would fall from the sky to Earth each year, around the time that he was executed, in the form of the Perseids.
Did you know that you can name a real star in the Perseus constellation, near where the Perseid meteors appear to originate? It won’t be a shooting star, but it’ll still be magical and special enough to make wishes upon, and it’ll be easier to keep track of too! Naming a star is a beautiful way of symbolising to someone how much you love and care about them and that they are your universe, allowing you to form deep, personal connections with the most important people in your life. With a variety of package options to choose from, there is something for everyone and every occasion – all you need is a name.