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Skydivers Transform Into 'Shooting Stars' During Perseid Meteor Shower

skydivers during Perseid meteor shower
A long-exposure shot showing the wingsuit jumpers in their bright LED suits zooming across the night sky. (Image credit: Daniel Lopez | Red Bull Content Pool)

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaked this week, but four daredevils were not to be outdone by the spectacular sky show. As meteors streaked across the night sky, the men jumped out of an airplane wearing LED wingsuits, transforming themselves, in essence, into shooting stars.

The stunt, sponsored by energy drink maker Red Bull, was timed to pay tribute to the Perseids, which are also known as the "tears of St. Lawrence," the skydivers said in a statement.

What's more, the men — Joakim Sommer from Norway, Armando del Rey from Spain, and Marco Waltenspiel and Georg Lettner, both from Austria — did the jump in one of the best areas in the Northern Hemisphere for astronomical observations: over La Palma in the Canary Islands, located off the northwestern coast of Africa. [8 Craziest Skydives of All Time]

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when Earth passes through a stream of debris left behind from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. These cosmic objects streak across Earth's atmosphere, leaving ephemeral burning trails of light.

This year's show has been particularly dazzling, with some skywatchers reporting up to 200 meteors per hour on Thursday night and Friday morning (Aug. 11 and 12) when the Perseids peaked, according to NASA. The four additional "shooting stars" over the Canary Islands didn't burn up like most meteors. Instead, the four daredevils jumped from an altitude of 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) out of an airplane above the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, home of the world's biggest optic telescope, the Gran Telescopio.  

Moreover, the jumpers pulled off the 105-mph (170 km/h) freefall in total darkness, using only the light from their LED wingsuits and the stars around them to guide the way.

A long-exposure shot showing the wingsuit jumpers in their bright LED suits zooming across the night sky. (Image credit: Daniel Lopez Red Bull Content Pool)

"The experience has been amazing," Sommer said in a statement. "It literally felt like I was in a video game. I was in this black tunnel, and there was nothing else besides all those billions of stars in my face. It was a really unique visual, because you could really feel the speed, but you have no other surroundings. You are just in pitch black; it is like you are out there in the outer space. It's crazy. It was literally crazy."

Photographers captured the stunt for posterity with videos and pictures. Several long-exposure photos show the wingsuit jumpers streaking across the dark sky with stars in the background.

The jump above La Palma, also known as "La Isla Bonita," happened from a T21 aircraft, courtesy of the Air Force, the Canarian Institute of Astrophysics and La Palma City Hall.

The jumpers also paid their respects to firefighters battling a massive blaze that hit La Palma this past month. It's likely that the fire was started by a German tourist who was burning used toilet paper in a national park, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Original article on Live Science.

Laura Geggel
As an associate editor for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment, archaeology and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee.