While Googling for information about the upcoming Perseid meteor shower, I came across an article from the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, from which I learned some startling things:

Perseids aren’t back by popular demand but by galactic forces that set them adrift in the wake of fly-by comets, probably from their namesake constellation, Perseus, a northern constellation that at 28 degrees in length is one of the largest in our sky. For those who want to see where the particles likely originated, Perseus is easy to find because of what surrounds it — constellations such as the “W” of Cassiopeia, Auriga, Andromeda, Triangulum and Taurus. The Perseus Arm is one of four major spiral arms of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Earth is in the minor Orion Arm.

This astounding paragraph displays such a deep ignorance of science that I’m not even sure where to start. The Perseids are so named because they appear to come from the direction of Perseus; they’re not actually from there. (Nothing could be; a constellation is not a discrete location in the Universe.) And the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way has absolutely nothing to do with any of this, except that it also appears in the same region of the sky.

I’d bet money that the only “research” for this article consisted entirely of a few minutes of surfing on Wikipedia; the reporter grabbed random “facts” that appeared relevant and stitched them together with guesses. Admittedly, that’s more than some reporters do, but it would have helped if the writer (or the editor) had had at least a basic understanding of astronomy.

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