Wars have been a horror through the history of mankind with endless small-scale conflicts as far as written history can be traced. Recent centuries were marked by unprecedented large-scale conflicts all started by criminal autocratic psychopaths, think about Jozef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte in the order of number of victims that were killed in their name.
Even in the sad times of war astronomical events like meteor showers distracted terrorized people from the brutal reality of war. In ancient times comets, fireballs and meteor showers were interpreted as messages about rulers and conflicts. In more modern times, astronomy continued during difficult war times. For instance, during the American civil war (1861-1865) several years with exceptional rich Perseids and Leonids displays were described in literature. Also, during WWI and WWII meteor events were documented. The founder of the American Meteor Society, Charles Pollard Olivier maintained contacts with meteor amateurs worldwide during WWII. Meteor observing became a popular activity in obligatory blackout parts of occupied Europe which resulted in new amateur astronomer societies after WWII.
Unfortunately, wars continue to destroy people’s lives. Ukraine became victim of a new psychopath seeking to impose another imaginary empire by submitting other people using rhetoric and methods identical to Stalin and Hitler. Also in this war, astronomers, amateurs and professionals, continue to work in difficult situation of permanent terror by the invading aggressor. Let us not forget our friends, meteor observers in Ukraine. The Perseids caught attention in these sad circumstances: https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2023/08/17/7416023/ with a poetic description:
“The black velvet of the night sky, a scattering of August stars, flashing new ones, previously unknown to astronomers. The Perseid meteor shower mixes with trails of tracer ammunition.
The spent shell casings fall off with a metallic clink. The darkness is cut by the barely audible thin whistle of RPG grenades, illuminating everyone present with a ghostly yellow-green glow and disappearing into the night haze as suddenly as it appeared.“