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Network for Meteor
Triangulation and Orbit Determination
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NEMETODE is a network of cameras based in the British Isles that monitor the night sky for meteors ("shooting stars"). Through the use of triangulation and timing the network is able to determine the actual trajectory and velocity of the meteoroids as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere. From this we are able to determine specific characteristics such as the radiant (that point in the sky from which each meteor appears to originate), how the position of this radiant varies with time and the parameters of the original solar orbit of the meteoroid (before the earth got in the way). We analyse our own data as we find this is an excellent feedback mechanism that deepens our understanding of the subject and enables us to optimise our detection capabilities. Our results are published in peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of the British Astronomical Association and WGN, the Journal of the International Meteor Organisation. Having completed our analysis, our data is uploaded to EDMOND for consolidation with other European groups. While we have excellent coverage over certain parts of the British Isles, there are still many gaps so please get in touch if you are interested in joining the group.
19th January 2017: A Short Hop: Following a recent house move from Low Craighead to Dunure (approximately 10km north), long-standing team member David Anderson now has all three of his cameras back in action with an innovative "hutch" design.
17th January 2017: New Year, New Observers: Website updates have been somewhat intermittent of late however one of my New Year resolutions is to try and provide updated information on a more frequent basis. To begin with I'd like to welcome two new observing stations to the team. Towards the end of last year Andy McCrea from Bangor in Co. Down commissioned his first camera system based around a Watec 902H2 Ultimate and a Computar 6mm f0.8 lens, pointing North-East towards Scotland. Andy is well known within astronomical circles and his system is collecting excellent data.
Another system has been commissioned at Dunsink Observatory in the outskirts of Dublin. Dunsink has a very long history of astronomical observation and these latest additions, operational since October 2016 and pointing South and South-West, comprise two Watec 902H3 Supreme cameras coupled with 8mm f1.2 lenses. In addition to the excellent video results that are being obtained, radio receiving equipment was also installed in January 2017 to record meteor scatter from the GRAVES transmitter in France. This ensures Dunsink is able to capture meteor activity at all hours, irrespective of daylight or inclement weather. In addition to further expanding the ablation layer coverage over and around Ireland, the team at Dunsink will use this equipment as part of their public outreach program, educating and inspiring the next generation of astronomers. Further details are available here.
Please join me in welcoming both Andy and the team at Dunsink to the NEMETODE team. As ever, we all look forward to the science that will flow from these systems.
27th December 2016: Jim's FRIPON Camera: Jim Rowe has written a very nice overview of his all-sky camera that is part of FRIPON, a (primarily) French network designed to facilitate meteorite recovery.
17th August 2016: Frank's Four: The standard health warning that video meteor observing is highly addictive and should be approached with caution continues to be ignored with Frank Johns being the latest member of the team to expand their setup. Just in time for the peak of the Perseid shower, Frank has commissioned a ziggurat design to house his four cameras which now provide excellent ablation layer coverage to his North and West.
18th July 2016: Long and Flat: In the early hours of Sunday 17th July 2016 multiple reports began to appear on Twitter of a very long duration meteor. Over subsequent hours reports also began to appear on the IMO Fireball page (albeit with a wide range of reported times). Later the same morning Jim Rowe reported that a long duration meteor had been detected on his system and before long other members of the NEMETODE team were reporting similar findings. The analysis is still ongoing however what is clear is that this was an unusual event. The first detection of the meteor trail was at 23:13:51 GMT on Saturday 16th July 2016 (00:13:51 BST on Sunday 17th July 2016) by Ray Taylor's system in Skirlaugh as it crossed the North Yorkshire sea coast between Middlesbrough and Whitby. Over the course of at least the next 7 seconds, the meteoroid travelled on a south-south-west trajectory, skimming the top of the atmosphere at an almost constant altitude of 109km for a distance in excess of 400km. Along the way it was detected by Alex Pratt (Leeds), William Stewart (Ravensmoor), Jim Rowe (East Barnet) and Steve & Peta Bosley (Clanfield). A sporadic with an absolute magnitude of -1.6, it was still going strong when it left the field of view of the last camera as it passed to the south-east of Glastonbury. The orbit shows that this was clearly of cometary origin - note the perihelion well inside the orbit of Mercury. Did the meteoroid ultimately dive deeper into the atmosphere or skip back out into space? We're still pulling some data and will keep you all posted but in the meantime the imagery below shows what was seen and the results of our initial analysis.
16th July 2016: Video Meteor Spectroscopy: For anyone interested in the basics of Video Meteor Spectroscopy, we've now published details of this exciting topic in #4 of our series of Technical Notes. While this type of data collection presents its own unique series of challenges, it is quite rewarding and experienced operators of "standard" video systems are certainly encouraged to consider augmenting their existing systems with a spectral system.
11th July 2016: Jim & Ray "Double Up": The addictive nature of video meteor observing continues unabated as Ray Taylor and Jim Rowe have each augmented their original systems with additional cameras. Ray's second camera points north-east (his first points north-west) while Jim also now has coverage to his north-east and north-west. Congratulations to them both - as ever the additonal coverage further enhances the opportunities for multi-station captures, opens up further parts of the ablation layer that have previously had limited or no coverage and will result in valuable science.
27th June 2016: Multiple Witnesses: Back on the 25th June 2016 at 02:02:26 GMT a bright meteor was widely observed over large parts of the country with many witnesses recording their observations on the Armagh and IMO fireball pages. In spite of the extensive cloud cover over much of the UK, the cameras of Jon Jones (Huntington), Martin Farmer (Newcastle under Lyme) and Nick James (Chelmsford) were able to record it. We can be confident this was a fireball due to Martin's observation (apparent magnitude -4.1) even though the calculated absolute magnitude was only -1.6 The fact that for Jon the brightest part of the trail was obscured by cloud and for Nick it was very close to the horizon has fooled UFO Orbit into underestimating the brightness. Martin's observation is remarkably clear and well framed. Note the internal reflection above the main trail, travelling in the opposite direction. The analysis shows it was a sporadic with a low Vg of 12.4 km/s, catching up with the earth as it orbited the sun. Only a Q1 event and so we can't put too much faith in the orbit however for what it's worth, Tj=4.4 hence the meteoroid is likely to have been asteroidal in origin. The .kml file to visualise the meteoroid's trajecotry through the earth's atmosphere is available here.
29th May 2016: Jim Rowe joins NEMETODE: Last night was the first full night of operation of Jim Rowe's video meteor detection system. Jim's system is based around a Watec 902H2 Ultimate and points north-west from his home in East Barnet, North London. Will be adding further details to Jim's page in the coming days but in the meantime please join me in welcoming Jim to the team.
26th May 2016: Welcome to Peter: A few weeks ago Peter Stewart installed his camera system, comprising a Watec 902H2 Supreme and a Cosmicar Pentax 12mm f0.8 lens, at his home to the north of Lisburn, Co. Antrim. Pointing west-south-west, it provides valuable coverage over the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Since go-live, Peter has been fine tuning his setup and as we enter the main meteor-season for northern hemisphere observers, we look forward to the data that will flow from his setup. Please join me in welcoming Peter to the NEMETODE team.
16th May 2016: Nick Rowell joins NEMETODE: For the past few weeks Nick Rowell from Gargunnock, near Stirling in Scotland, has been busy commissioning and optimising his video meteor detection system and deploying some additional automation. Nick notes, "I've had a bit of time this weekend to put the finishing touches to my system and do my first proper UFOAnalyser run. Now that I'm routinely collecting data I think it's time to 'go public' and start sharing my results with the NEMETODE team. My system uses a Raspberry Pi to turn on the camera PC (by toggling the power button using the GPIO pins) at sunset +30mins after automatically checking the weather forecast for the night - the whole setup is working very nicely and has been running without supervision for several weeks. I've been writing a technical note explaining how to put the system together and will share that once it's ready". Nick's location and alignment opens up yet another part of the ablation layer for which we previously did not have regulary monitoring and is a very valuable addition. Please join me in welcoming Nick (and his camera) to the group.
29th April 2016: Chris & Victoria join NEMETODE: Please join me in welcoming Chris & Victoria Jackson to the NEMETODE family. Those of you with experience of the radio detection of meteors will likely already be familiar with Chris & Victoria's work. In recent weeks however they have deployed a video meteor detection system (based on a Watec 902H3 Supreme and a Tamron 3-8mm f1.0 lens) from Copt Oak, Leicestershire to augment their radio setups. This will support the growing effort to investigate the correlation between meteors detected via radio and via video ... and as ever we're looking forward to the science that will result from this system. Stay tuned for further updates as existing members of the team deploy additional cameras and new observers complete the commissioning phase of their recently acquired setups.
21st March 2016: Blinded by the Light: As was widely reported in the media, a fireball was observed over much of the British Isles on Thursday 17th March 2016 at 03:16:55GMT, an event some have dubbed the St Patrick's Day Fireball. Many cameras in the network recorded the sky brightening / flashes associated with this event though for the majority the trail was outside of their field of view. Steve & Peta Bosley and Allan Carter had more success though the event does highlight the challenges associated with such bright meteors.
Our observers often optimise their systems to detect very faint meteors, as for every bright meteor there are many more faint ones - and the team are trying to build up a large database of orbits from which statistically significant conclusions can be drawn. While this approach is sensible, it does mean that when a bright event occurs, it can overwhelm the sensor and saturate the image. In particular, Allan's setup is one of the most sensitive in the group and his imagery is almost totally maxed out (see videos here and here). Steve & Peta's video is here while a composite and still from their video are shown below.
18th March 2016: Andrew Joins the Team: Please join me in welcoming Andrew Smith to the NEMETODE family. Andrew has recently deployed a Cosmicar Pentax 12mm f0.8 lens coupled to a Watec 910HX from his observatory in Delamere, Cheshire. The long focal length, fast lens and top of the range camera make this a formiddable system and as ever we're looking forward to the science that will result from this system. Stay tuned for further updates as existing members of the team deploy additional cameras and new observers complete the commissioning phase of their recently acquired setups.
08th March 2016: Aurora ... on Video!: If we want to capture imagery of an auroral display then many of us have to put in the effort to travel to more northerly latitudes, look north and take long exposure photographs. However there are no such inconveniences for Denis Buczynski. The combination of his permanent location, the recent display of bright aurora and the sensitivity of his south facing (Yep, Denis can see them when looking south) meteor camera system means that he can easily capture them on video as shown in the imagery below of a zenithal cone. Comparison with a DSLR image taken by Denis from the same location a couple of minutes later provides a colourful comparison. In addition to sprites and fuel dumps, who know what other noteworthy events will be picked up next?
20th February 2016: Sprites, Must See Videos: A series of sprite events originating from a storm to the south of London were imaged by multiple cameras just before midnight on 07th February 2016 by Allan Carter, Richard Fleet and Hampshire Astronomical Group. It's fair to say that Allan's captures from his East facing camera are, by some considerable margin, the best imagery of these elusive phenomena ever caught by video meteor cameras from the British Isles. As Dr Martin Fullekrug notes, "It seems this storm was very active as it is pretty rare to see so many sprites from one single storm." Allan's videos include the event at normal speed as well as the same event slowed down by a factor of 10. See the Sprites page for additional imagery and videos.
19th February 2016: Staying Indoors: Further to the 21st November 2015 update (see below), Alex Pratt's article in the February 2016 issue of the JBAA provides additional detaials regarding just how effective a video meteor detection system can be when sited indoors. So, if an external CCTV housing is not an option, you can still get involved.
29th January 2016: New Year, New Observer: Please join me in welcoming Greg Pearce, the latest meteor observer to join the team. Greg, a colleague of Frank Johns, has recently commissioned his video detection system (a Watec 902H2 Supreme fitted with a Cosmicar Pentax 6mm f0.75 lens) at his home in Veryan on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. Greg's system provides valuable additional coverage over the southern parts of the Irish Sea and lifts the total number of deployed systems across the NEMETODE Team to 52.
Previous years of the NEMETODE homepage can be accessed by clicking on the links below.