The prized guest, however, lay in the dead trails of an ancient icy beast. The Swift-Tuttle comet was 'discovered' in 1862 but possible reports of this comet come as early as 69 BC. With an orbital period of ~133 years this 26km diameter comet sheds it's icy shell when in close proximity to the sun; warming, melting and flaking. Comets' origins are not fully known although using the velocity, mass and trajectory of many known comets it has been shown that they emanate from two icy regions outside of our solar system known as the Kuipier belt (for short period comets) and the Oort cloud (long period comets). Projects are still underway to determine the nature of those regions, their structure and how they got there in the first place. (As a point of reference, Pluto (~1,200km diameter) was reclassified as a dwarf planet, and is the largest member of the Kuipier belt family).
And so, every 133 years Swift-Tuttle leaves a trail of dust and ice in it's wake and summarily returns to it's lair in the deep (probably the Kuipier belt), gathering strength (basically ice and dust again...) and will visit us again in the year 2126.
As chance would dictate, our precious Earth, every year, passes through that trail of ice and dust. The Earth is already travelling at 30km/s around the Sun! So when comet debris enters the Earths atmosphere it heats up and we observe that as a bright arrow across the sky.
It's really quite beautiful. And rather personal. The light from a meteor is only momentary, normally less than one second. You cannot predict where exactly it will emanate from, and, if in a small crowd, you could be the only person who sees it, to the annoyance of everyone else! After about 1hour and ~30 meteors later (...and a nice hot cup of tea), we headed home to sleep.
The image is accredited to Fritz Helmut Hemmerich and featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day 12.08.18. It shows an unbelievable long exposure shot of the Andromeda galaxy (our closest spiral galaxy) and captures a Perseids meteor shooting directly across it, marvelous.