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NASA cameras catch early fireballs from Perseid meteor shower of 2020 (video)

One of the year's best meteor showers is well underway, as a new video shows.

NASA's All-Sky Fireball Network captured Perseid meteors streaking overhead on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 8 and Aug. 9). The footage, which you can see here, serves as a reminder to head outside for the famous Perseid shower, which is expected to peak overnight Tuesday to Wednesday (Aug. 11 to Aug. 12).

The Perseids appear between July 17 and Aug. 24, as Earth plows through debris shed over the eons by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The meteors seem to emanate from the constellation Perseus, hence the name.

Related: Perseid meteor shower 2020: When, where & how to see it

This NASA sky map shows where to look to spot the Perseid meteor shower of 2020, which peaks before dawn on Aug. 12, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Perseids usually put on a memorable show, with observers under clear, dark skies typically spotting 45 to 90 meteors per hour during the shower's peak. This year is shaping up to be subpar, however. The last-quarter moon will hover low over the horizon in the predawn darkness during the Perseid peak, drowning out some meteors with its glare.

Still, you'll be able to spot some Perseids in the coming days, if your skies are clear and your patience holds. You don't have to know where Perseus or any other constellations are; just go outside, preferably after midnight, and look up. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness, then wait for faint streaks of light to appear.

The All-Sky Fireball Network is a system of 17 skywatching cameras around the country that NASA uses to track meteors that blaze more brightly than Venus in the sky. (That's the definition of a fireball, after all.) The agency uses this information to better understand material zooming around near Earth, such as cometary debris.

Editor's note: If you snap an amazing photo or video of 2020 Perseid meteor shower and would like to share it with Space.com for a possible story or gallery, send images and comments to spacephotos@space.com

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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