San Lorenzo, the night of shooting stars has arrived and with it the desire to scan the sky, waiting for the right moment to make a wish, becomes stronger and stronger. In short, from North to South, Italy is preparing to celebrate a tradition that involves adults and children alike.

The origins of this anniversary

Which history What’s behind the August 10th appointment? The origins of this anniversary are Christian and concern the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, one of the Deacons of Pope Sixtus II. It is said that in August 258 AD the emperor Valerian issued an edict according to which all bishops, presbyters and deacons were to be put to death. Surprised while celebrating the Eucharist in the catacombs of Pretestato, Pope Sixtus II was killed together with four of his deacons; among these there was also Lorenzo, who on August 10 was burned alive on a grill. It is said that at the very moment of his death, the shooting stars took a shape very similar to that of the burning embers that had tortured the Saint, becoming for everyone “the tears of the sky”, later also taken up by Pascoli in the poem “X Agosto” .

Today, we know that what we improperly call “shooting stars” are actually meteors, visible in this period because the Earth passes through the Perseid swarm in mid-Augustdebris from comet Swift-Tuttle, discovered in 1862 and whose last passage dates back to 1992.

The experts of the Turin Planetarium: to see the stars look for the “radiant”

The peak of the phenomenon will occur between the 12th and the 13th, presumably at dawn on the 13th, corresponding to favorable conditions on the Moon. To fully enjoy the show as well as position yourself in a place with a dark sky, not afflicted by light pollution, it will be advisable to choose a point with a wide view to be able to observe the meteor shower in all its splendor. Another useful tip that comes from the experts at the Turin Planetarium is to identify the “radiant” is the point from which the meteors appear to originate, which in the case of the Perseids is located in the constellation of Perseus. “By observing many meteors of this shower – they write from the Planetarium – you can notice that they go in every direction but come from a single region of the sky. The point from which the meteors seem to originate is called the radiant, and is located in the constellation of Perseus However, the constellation has nothing to do with shooting stars: they are an atmospheric phenomenon, which occurs about 100 kilometers above the ground. The stars that form the constellations are found billions of kilometers from Earth.” In August the constellation Perseus is located in the northeast direction under Cassiopeia a constellation in the shape of an inverted “M”. Also given the particular conditions of this year’s Moon, it is advisable to look for meteors just before dawn, waiting in the dark for at least 10 minutes so that your eyes get used to the dark situation.

Events and celebrations throughout Italy

The celebration of August 10th has always been much loved by Florentines. In the past the ceremony began with the mass celebrated by the prior in San Lorenzo where the relics of the Saint were exhibited to the public and where the blessing was given in Florence before the ombudsman. Today this anniversary is seen as an opportunity for the community to gather and meet, which gathers in Piazza San Lorenzo for the traditional distribution of watermelon and lasagne, awaiting the classical music concert organized in the churchyard.

In Rome the initiatives are numerous and among the most varied. Roma World in Cinecittà is equipped with telescopes and telescopes to leave its guests free to admire the Perseid swarm up close. In Santa Severa, a few km from the capital, it will be possible to look at the stars by the sea among the alleys and squares at the Santa Severa Castle, a space of the Lazio Region, in agreement with the Mic and the Municipality of Santa Marinella.

For those who live in Emilia RomagnaHowever, the region also organizes, among other things, night treks to picnics surrounded by nature; an example of this is the evening walk with tasting in the square at the Castello di Serravalle (Bo), among the vineyards of the first hills of the Apennines, with tasting of local wines.

In Trento MUSE, the science museum, will make its powerful telescopes and astronomical expertise available to decipher the summer sky. A journey between planets and constellations: it will start at 9pm and continue until 11pm and beyond.

In Sardinia there is a municipality in the province of Oristano which has around 400 inhabitants who on August 10th will join together for the celebrations in honor of San Lorenzo Martire: in Mogorella, between dancing, singing and good food, two consecutive days dedicated to the Patron Saint of children will be held city ​​centre.

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