The Grisly 'Origin Story' Behind the Perseid Meteor Shower
The celestial phenomenon was identified long before astronomers took note by devout Christians, who had their own fiery interpretation.
Ancient accounts are full of astronomical observations, from a 3,400-year-old solar eclipse to a depiction of Halley's comet on the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry. The annual Perseid meteor shower, for instance, was first noted in Chinese records in A.D. 36.
But the earliest recognition that the Perseids are a recurring event may have its source in Christian tradition and the grisly death of one of its early saints. (Read more on how to see the 2018 Perseid meteor shower.)
Several astronomers are believed to have independently "discovered" the Perseids in the 1830s, yet some scientists at the time conceded in their reports that European Christians had been long aware of the celestial phenomenon—just with a very