New tau Herculid meteor shower drops bright fireballs, but no 'meteor storm,' for stargazers (photos)

A tau Herculids meteor streaks above sandstone formations at the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada on May 30, 2022 in this photo by Ethan Miller of Getty Images. The shooting star came from the shards of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, or SW3. (Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Bright "shooting stars" from a new meteor shower lit up the night sky in a dazzling display overnight Monday and Tuesday, even if it wasn't a "meteor storm" some stargazers hoped for.

The new meteor shower peaked around midnight Tuesday (May 31) as remnants from the shattered Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (also known as SW 3) burned up harmlessly high in Earth's atmosphere as a part of scientists now wall the tau Herculids meteor shower.

While the shooting star fiesta never hit "meteor storm" conditions (with up to 1,000 meteors an hour), it did produce enough luminous meteors to catch attention around the world. (NASA had warned the storm would only happen if debris was moving faster than 220 mph or 321 km/h, and its meteor expert Bill Cooke cautioned it was an "all or nothing event."

Related: The greatest meteor storms of all time

A tau Herculids meteor streaks across the sky in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 31, 2022 in this photo by Peter Zay of the Anadolu Agency and Getty Images. (Image credit: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"It was not the expected storm, but the Earth clearly crossed a cloud of dust from the comet," the French Network of Amateur Observers of Meteors (BOAM) wrote on Twitter along with a timelapse image of shooting stars. (The translation from French was performed by

Related: Meteor shower guide 2022: Dates and viewing advice 

NASA engineer Tim Reyes, who is based in Silicon Valley, was out for several hours observing tau Herculids. Posting his observations and an image on his personal Twitter account, he said, "No storm level, above average shower [and] short duration, about three hours." 

The peak was also half an hour later than its forecast, Reyes said, happening at 10:30 p.m. PDT (1:30 a.m. EDT or 0550 GMT).

Numerous other observers caught the storm around the United States, along with images and in some cases, other celestial objects such as the Milky Way. Observations were helped along by a new moon, and in the Americas, the radiant out of the Hercules constellation was high in the sky and away from thicker atmospheric conditions near the horizon.

If you missed the show, consult our upcoming meteor showers of 2022 to figure out when next to look up. August is usually a great time, as this year the bright Perseids peak around Aug. 11 to 12.

If you're hoping to photograph any meteor shower, or want to prepare your gear for the next skywatching event, check out our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. Read our guide on how to photograph meteors and meteor showers for more helpful tips to plan out your photo session.

Related: Meteor shower guide 2022: Dates and viewing advice 

Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing photo of the tau Herculids meteor shower and would like to share it with's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: