Perseid meteor over the Luhasoo bog in Estonia, by Martin Mark.

In August, the Earth passes through the debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, causing the Perseid meteor shower. When the pebble-sized debris burn up in our atmosphere, we see shooting stars that appear to come from the same direction as the constellation of Perseus.

I stayed up on Saturday night to watch, but I only saw a few shooting stars despite (erronous) claims that 2017 would have the best Perseids in 96 years. It was still fascinating, particularly knowing that they were space pebbles sizzling up in our atmosphere tens of miles above me. Historically, people have seen spiritual or cultural significance in astronomical events, so I wondered if there was any such history for the Perseids.

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