Chalk another one up for science

BBC: Stargazers enjoy meteor spectacle

Thousands of people in the northern hemisphere have witnessed a spectacular light show of shooting stars, known as the Perseid meteor shower.

Meteor showers were once seen as heavenly portents, interpreted in one way or another by people who didn't know what the hell they were talking about. Thanks to science, we now know that the annual Perseid shower occurs when Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet, causing tiny particles of dust to burn up in our planet's atmosphere.

Keats moaned that Newton had destroyed the poetry of the rainbow by describing how it worked. Keats could not have been more wrong. Isn't the real explanation of the Perseid shower so much more poetic than any mumbo-jumbo about starry messages from non-existant deities? Knowing its true cause only added to my sense of wonder as I stood barefoot on my lawn last night, gawping at the light show emanating from just to the left of Cassiopeia.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks

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