Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perseids Meteor Shower

Mom and I would climb the ladder, take a blanket up to the still-hot roof, and watch the Perseids meteor shower in the northeastern sky while we talked softly and laughed. The brightest meteors fell after midnight. My dad and brother, early to bed, missed it all. When Phoenix, Arizona was a small city in clear desert air, we could see the Milky Way. Phoenix is a megalopolis now, and city lights have overcome the starry host. Sometimes, there are monsoon clouds obscuring the stars anyway.

Laurentius was a Christian deacon martyred by the Romans in 258 AD. They roasted him on an iron stove, from which he reportedly (and improbably) cried out, “I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.” The saint’s death was remembered on his feast day, August 10, and the shooting stars of the Perseids meteor shower also became known as the fiery Tears of St. Lawrence.

The meteors we see are only the size of a grain of sand, with a few reaching the size of a pea or marble. They are the “exhaust” trail of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, which circles our Sun every 130 years. Earth passes through this grainy trail every year at this time, and the grains fall through our atmosphere at 37 miles per second, flaming with heat friction.

The Lord was not obligated to create anything, much less such fascinating beauty. But He has His reputation to keep up. The beauty was not lost on the ancients, either.

Isaiah 40:26 MSG: Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!—and never overlooks a single one?

Song of Solomon 6:10 MSG: Has anyone ever seen anything like this—dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?

Daniel 12:3 MSG: Men and women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever. 

This article featured on " Daily Inspiration and Arts Travel" at


  1. My father-in-law used to love to see the Perseids. I did not know of any of the "history" in terms of man's associations so that was really interesting to read. Thanks much for taking the time to write; it was a blessing.

  2. Susie Sutherland said:
    I wonder if I can see this in Australia?

    Christy K Robinson replied:
    A NASA site says this, Susie: "Because of the way the comet's orbit is tilted, dust from Swift-Tuttle falls on Earth's northern hemisphere. Viewed from Earth's surface, the meteors appear to flow from the constellation Perseus (hence the name Perseids). Perseus is easy to spot from Europe and North America, but it barely peeps above the horizon of, e.g., Australia and New Zealand. Southern hemisphere sky watchers will see very few Perseids."


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