Meteor Hunting

Alongside my astrophotography, I am also a member of the UKMON meteor monitoring network. I have three video cameras to capture meteors, and a radio astronomy system monitoring for events in the radio spectrum. I am also meteor section director for the Society of Popular Astronomy in the UK (website here).

To capture meteors we use two methods. First we use video to capture short clips of the meteors as they burn up. Second we use still cameras to capture contuous data and analyse it later using a Raspberry Pi. I have two security cameras pointing at the sky and using the UFOCapture suite, plus another using the RMS raspberry pi software.

The software can make a rough estimate of the shower, direction and velocity of the meteors, but for more detailed analysis the data is fed in realtime to the UK Meteor Network. Combining each stations’ data with other stations allows us to work out the orbits of the meteoroids that caused the meteor, and sometimes their approximate size and mass – and whether they made it to the ground.

The radio detector works a bit differently. There’s more about it in my article on the SPA website here but in essence we listen for radio echoes off the hot plasma surrounding the meteor. This data can also be used for research purposes though as the resolution is much poorer we can’t do as much.

The gallery below shows some examples of fireballs I’ve picked up, along with the orbits of some meteors and the output from the radio. There are separate pages here and here with realtime updates on the latest data i have captured.

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