The composite images below are a stack of the current month’s captures from my cameras. During quiet times you may only see two or three meteors on the images, but during showers such as Geminids, Perseids or Quadrantids, there may be 50-100 detections per night so these images will get very busy! I manually clean the data every day to remove aircraft. Click on an image to see a larger version.
Video detection of meteors is perhaps more spectacular than radio detection, because occasionally we pick up a fireball or other interesting event.
There is more detail on the SPA website here or the UKMON site here, but in summary I’m using two different sorts of software to do the same thing: the UFOCapture suite is designed to operate with security cameras such as the KDM-6101-G or the Watec902H. It records constantly but discards the video unless movement takes place, in which case it saves a 5-10 second clip. The RMS software works with any IP Camera – I’m using a barebones Sony IMX291 similar to this one – and records short clips in a compressed format all night with some rough analysis in realtime but it then re-analyses them in the morning. The more modern RMS system has better algorithms for detecting meteors and rejecting other moving objets. .
With the UFO data it is essential check the following day to eliminate planes, satellites, birds and clouds as explained here, then the data can be processed to estimate the shower, velocity and direction of the meteor. This is less critical with RMS software but still recommended.
This analysis generates files which can be combined with other stations to accurately triangulate the meteor’s trajectory as it hit our atmosphere. From this we can work out the meteoroid’s orbit. Other characteristics allow us to estimate its size and weight – and whether it might have survived to reach the ground.
There is a live stream from many of the UKMON cameras available here. We do catch a lot of aircraft !
If you see or hear of a fireball, its worth checking our cameras to see if we caught it. And please do use the form on either the SPA or UKMON websites to make a report of your own. Both of these will submit a report to the International Meteor Organization.