No time for a lengthy post this morning, just a reminder that the brilliant Perseid meteor shower is going on right now as I type! The Perseids are dust and debris flying off the comet Swift-Tuttle, and every year around this time the Earth passes through the cloud. To us, it looks like the meteors are coming from the constellation Perseus, hence the name, but in Medieval Europe they were called the Tears of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of librarians who was beheaded in early August of the year 258.
Anyway, get yourself to a dark location free of clouds and enjoy the show. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars, just the fortitude to stay awake until prime viewing time around 2 a.m. — that’s after the moon has set but still during the time when your side of the planet is plowing face-first into the river of dust. I plan to be stumbling out of a club in Cambridge at about that time, so here’s hoping the thunderclouds that have plagued Boston the past week finally decide to take their leave. Click the pic below to see a bigger shot of a Perseid meteor from 2000, over on the fabulous Astronomy Picture of the Day.