You probably weren’t aware that our planet was bombarded last week. At a rate of 30 to 40 projectiles per hour, you would think that would be hard to miss. Thankfully our big blue ball of life has its own force field and eradicated these potential threats before they could become dangerous. What do we call this World War? It’s the Perseid Meteor Shower and it happens every year.
As we do every August, the Earth plowed into the space debris left from the comet Swift-Tuttle. While most of it burns up in the atmosphere, where it can reach temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the falling bits of space rock that do make it to terra firma are estimated to be over 1,000 years old. And though chunks of old pieces of comet fallout aren’t spectacular to look at, watching them disintegrate on the way down is definitely a show you want to watch.
Whether or not you believe shooting stars are lucky or will grant wishes, watching one and realizing how great and big our galaxy is is awe inspiring. And if you do believe in the wish granting superstitions, you better start writing your list for next year because you’ll get plenty of opportunities to wish and wish and wish on the thousands of “stars” that fall every year from August 9th to the 14th.
We have been watching the Perseid Meteor Shower for at least 2,000 years and over that time, a number of myths, stories, and explanations have been tied to the phenomenon. Some Christians believed it to be angels being cast out of heaven, apparently part of an annual house cleaning. Others saw it as a soul’s journey to the afterlife. The meteors that made it to Earth were considered lucky by the Greeks and other cultures revered them as religious talismans.
If you’re wondering how the occurrence got it’s name, it’s pretty simple and very fitting. The shower originates from the constellation of Perseus, which is a good explanation in itself but it gets better when you know the story of the Greek hero. Among other great tasks, Perseus slayed the cursed Gorgon, Medusa. Upon cutting off her head, a winged horse, Pegasus, flew from her body and Perseus rode him into the sky. He then went and did other great things like founding a city but the point is that he could fly. Even before Pegasus, Hermes had given the hero winged shoes so he wouldn’t restricted by that whole walking thing. And he flew all over the (then) known world fighting crime and punishing people who were mean to him. So these remarkable sights were coming from the guy who could fly to the stars himself.