On July 17, Earth began its annual voyage through the debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. As a result, the grains of dust and ice left behind by the comet collide with Earth’s atmosphere, leading to shooting stars. The shooting stars were few and far between to begin with, but as our planet travelled through the debris the meteor showers have become more common.
Now, Earth is right in the midst of the debris, with the shooting stars peaking between the nights of August 11 and 13.
The best time to see the showers is between midnight and 5.30am according to the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Despite the heatwave Britain is currently enduring, large swathes of the country are expected to have a cloudy overcast tonight, which means the meteors may be difficult to spot.
However, no need to fret as online observatory Slooh is hosting a live stream of the meteor shower, using telescopes which will be able to peer through the clouds, while also giving handy tips on how you can take the perfect photographs of the meteor shower.
Slooh’s live feed kicks off at 1am on its YouTube channel, which is embedded onto THIS page.
Slooh said: “Join Slooh Astronomer Paul Cox and astrophotographer extraordinaire Dr. Mike Shaw for this special Star Party to learn how you can photograph the Perseids Meteor Shower!
“Mike Shaw is one of the best nightscapes astrophotographers in the world, and he leads the Nightscapes club at Slooh.
“He will explain how you can use DSLR and mirrorless cameras to photograph one of the most popular meteor showers of the year – the Perseids.”
READ MORE: Perseid meteor shower: Where is Perseus in the night sky?
St Lawrence’s day falls on August 10 and this is why Catholics associate the shooting stars with fiery tears.
St Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks, was tortured and martyred by the Romans in AD 258 during the persecution of the emperor Valerian along with many other members of the Roman clergy.
During his torture, St Lawrence was said to have been burned on a grill, and despite the extreme pain he was enduring, he supposedly quipped: “Turn me over – I am done on this side!”
As he was executed on August 10, many Catholics associate the Perseid meteor shower with St Lawrence and dub the shooting stars as the “tears of St Lawrence” as they occur at the same time each year.
Astronomy website Slooh said: “In medieval Europe, the Perseids were called the ‘Tears of St Lawrence’ because they occur near the anniversary of the death of Laurentius, a Christian deacon who was martyred by the Roman Emperor Valerian in the year 258 AD.”