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If you wish upon a star . . .

by Enzo Sciuto — last modified 2008-06-20 15:14

If you wish upon a star . . . romantic souls all over Italy will be looking up on the Feast of Saint Lawrence (August 10th) to view the magnificent meteor shower known as "the tears of Saint Lawrence"

Saint LawrenceSaint Lawrence lived in and around 250 AD. He spent his life collecting alms and distributing them to the poor of Rome. Legend has it that the Church was so angered when Lawrence refused to hand over Church valuables that it had him roasted on a flaming iron grid.
Nowadays, however, say San Lorenzo to an Italian and they’ll think of shooting stars or ‘tears’ as they are popularly called, in honour, perhaps, of his suffering. Not any shooting star, but the meteor shower that falls each year as the earth approaches the Swift-Tuttlen comet's orbit. Look out, or should I say up, for the spectacle from August 9th to the 14th with peak activity expected on the nights of the 11th and 12th.

Now you know the dates where can you go to enjoy this display? The obvious answer is far from the lights of the city. One of the most popular traditional viewpoints is Passo di Croce Arcana, at 1,700 metres off sea level between the provinces of Modena and Lucca. Take the Vignola-Fanano road from Modena, or drive towards Abetone from Pistoia, then head for Custigliano and Doganaccia, and take the dirt track to Croce Arcana. Afraid of getting lost? Phone 0573 629146 and someone will direct you.

A word of advice for first-timers: Perseid meteors stream from a point in the sky (the "radiant") in the constellation Perseus. An easy-to-recognise pattern of stars near the radiant is "W"-shaped Cassiopeia. Jupiter and Saturn are also not very far away.
.And don’t forget to make a wish . . . or two.

Find the stars - - a useful map to help you find the Perseid shower.
Stars on screen - a great collection of interactive astronomical programmes for you to download. We recommend Planetario 2.0.

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