Since ancient times, man has been fascinated by the mysteries of the universe, especially those that appear in the night sky every evening. Legends were woven around the creatures and their activities that early man believed he saw in the stars, and meteor showers were thought to be everything from a divine light show to the end of the world.

The Perseid meteor shower, which peaks this weekend on August 11 and 12, promises about 70 shooting stars an hour, so the streaking fireballs will be quite spectacular if you’re willing to stay up until after midnight, especially after the half-full moon sets about 1 am on Aug. 12. This annual August event takes its name from the constellation Perseus, the hero of ancient Greek myth born from a shower of heavenly gold. While the meteors appear to originate from that constellation, you should look somewhat down and away from it to more easily see the meteors.

Some say the Perseids will be the best sky-watching of the year, so grab your lawn chair and a blanket and get as far away from lights as possible. Leave your cell phones at home so the lighted screens don’t minimize your viewing.

As you’re gazing at these shooting stars, think what it must have been like for early man to have seen them for the first time. Would you have been thrilled? terrified? fascinated?

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