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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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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.

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 (opens in new tab) along with a timelapse image of shooting stars. (The translation from French was performed by Space.com.)

Related: Meteor shower guide 2022: Dates and viewing advice 

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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 (opens in new tab), 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).

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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 

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

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, 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.