"Welcome to the Tears of St. Lawrence:
An Appointment to Watch Falling Stars"

Today is the festa of Saint Lawrence (martyr and patron saint of comedians, BTW) which is why the "Night of the Shooting Stars" is also called the "Tears of St. Lawrence."

Between August 8 and 13 each year, the earth passes through a mega-meteor stream. Because the "falling stars" (at times even more than 60 an hour!) seem to originate in the constellation of Perseus, they've become known as the Perseids.

When I first arrived in Venice at the beginning of this summer, I saw posters like the one above all over the place... Turns out that it's part of an art exhibit for this year's
Venetian Biennale International Exhibition of Modern Art.

Olaf Nicolai's
Welcome to the Tears of St. Lawrence "registers on many levels: ranging from mass media to the contemplation of art, from astronomy to the Biennale, from science to superstition, the universal to the individual."

But Nicolai's art exhibit isn't limited in time and space! He's tried to transcend both, by making his materials available in many locales and in many formats. Mixing science, art, literature, poetry and popular culture, he's produced a free handy little booklet to the Perseids, which is also available

In it, you can find directions on how to look for them, as well as the best viewing times for hundreds of locations throughout the world, plus a fun sample of lore about falling stars. In the booklet, there was even a postcard included so that you could send the "Fireball Data Center" at the International Meteor Organization your observations, in the end making "Welcome to the Tears of Saint Lawrence" a collaborative and interactive scientific experiment/artwork!

Good thing! Apparently Italians need something to look forward to... According to a recent study commissioned by Meta Communicazione and carried out by 40 psychologists, Italians seem to have stopped having big, ambitious dreams. So, for tonight, when they wish upon a star, typically men are apparently going to wish for a new car or to own a house, while women will wish either to marry a soccer player or to become a TV showgirl. (from

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1 comment:

Tom said...

Well, I went out at 4am and 5:45am to try to see the Perseids, but visibility was like being inside half a ping-pong ball.

The only thing that could be seen was the unblinking red eye of Mars, glaring down balefully.

Not sure what you'd call the Perseids in Atlanta: Tears of Scarlett?