This article first appeared on RTL.de

We were anything but spoiled when looking at the sky. But that could change soon and the prevailing sun doesn’t even play the main role. Rather, it is the enchanting shooting stars that appear behind the opening cloud cover. The summer rain will take a short break in the coming days and allow a view of shooting stars. And this could be worth it, after all, the Perseids are one of the largest meteor showers.

They can already be seen, but most of them will be there at the maximum in the night from August 12th to 13th. At this time, up to 40 shooting stars fly across the firmament every hour. In addition to their high number, the comet debris (109P/Swift-Tuttle) also impresses with their rapid speed. They enter the atmosphere as fireballs at around 60 kilometers per second. That is almost 216,000 km/h and thus many times faster than a rocket on its way into space (around 28,000 km/h).

The Perseids got their name from the constellation Perseus, from which they originate. Early risers have the best chance of seeing the shooting stars, as they can be seen between 2am and 4am. A small drop of bitterness, however, is that the clouds in the sky do not play along everywhere. For most, the sky will remain densely cloudy. Only in the south and there mainly in Baden-W├╝rttemberg will the sky remain largely clear.

The Perseids have another popular name that has to do with Saint Lawrence. Since the meteor shower was also active on the date of death (10 August 258 AD) of the Roman deacon, the shooting stars are called Laurentius’ tears. According to tradition, the martyr refused to hand over the treasury of the church to the Roman emperor Valerian. The Emperor, who was also known for persecuting Christians, then had Laurentius tortured and executed on a metal grid.

In addition to the Perseids, the Delta Aquariids (July Aquariids) are also active in August. They started on July 12th. However, they do not occur that often and have already passed their maximum (July 30th). Only about 2 to 3 can be seen per hour. The meteor shower is active until August 23rd.

The shooting stars of the Delta Aquariids have their origin in the comet 96P/Machholz 1 and come from the direction of the constellation Aquarius. A distinction must be made between southern and northern July Aquariids. The northern ones have been active since mid-July and will continue to twinkle in the night sky well into September. The maximum of the meteor shower is on August 13th. However, the shooting star shower is much smaller than its southern relative, which already celebrated its peak on July 30th.