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Perseid meteor shower generates early 'shooting stars' (video)

Look up now and you might spot some early shooting stars.

While the 2022 Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak between Aug. 11 and 12, NASA has already spotted some early arrivals.

The agency's All Sky Fireball Network (opens in new tab) recorded a few meteors in its radar between July 26 and Aug. 1, as you can see in the video above. So meteors, generated by small rock bits plowing into our atmosphere, are out there. 

While we're still well away from the peak, it might be wise for you to look up now. That's because the bright August full Sturgeon supermoon will compete with the peak of the shower. The Virtual Telescope Project plans to host its Perseids webcast a few days ahead of the peak, on Aug. 9, to get more meteors before the moon washes out the view.

Related: Perseid meteor shower 2022 guide: When, where & how to see it

The Perseid meteor shower in 2009 as seen in a timelapse image. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)
Best cameras for astrophotography

The Nikon D850 DSLR

(Image credit: Nikon)

If you're looking for a good camera for meteor showers and astrophotography, our top pick is the Nikon D850. Check out our best cameras for astrophotography for more and prepare for the tau Herculids with our guide on how to photograph a meteor shower.

This year's Perseid peak will be fairly dismal by the usual standards, because of the moon being full and at its closest point to Earth. Visible meteors will range between 10 and 20 per hour at best, according to a statement (opens in new tab) from NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. 

By contrast, excellent seeing conditions often produce between 50 and 100 "shooting stars" or visible meteors during the Perseids peak, as long as you're standing in a zone with little light pollution and with clear skies.

The Perseids meteor shower ranges for weeks between mid-July and late August, as Earth moves through bits of ice and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The densest part of the comet's tail shifts a little year by year, which slightly alters the annual peak of the Perseids as the Earth passes through that area.

Whatever night you choose to observe the Perseids, the logistics are pretty easy. Find the darkest spot possible in your location, bring a lawn chair and snacks to stay comfortable, and try to go out around 2 a.m. local time to get the best view. 

Give your eyes plenty of time (20 minutes or so) to adjust to the darkness and face away from the radiant or apparent direction of the shower (Perseus, a northern constellation) to see the longest streakers.

If you want more advice on how to photograph the Perseid meteor shower, check out our how to photograph meteor showers guide and if you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.