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Triangulation and Orbit Determination

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William Stewart

Ravensmoor, Cheshire, England

Camera / Lens Combination:

Watec 902H / Computar 8mm f0.8, Az 340.2, Ev 39.7

Watec 902H / Computar 8mm f0.8, Az 067.0, Ev 45.1

Watec 902H / Computar 8mm f0.8, Az 103.2, Ev 43.4

Watec 902H2 Ultimate / Computar 12mm f0.8 Az 62.7, Ev 48.3 (Spectral, 600 g/mm)


William Stewart has been fascinated by the night sky for just about as long as he can remember. Growing up under the dark skies of Northern Ireland, there were ample opportunities for basic visual observations. Since then his interest has expanded to include spaceflight and astrophotography and he now gives regular talks to schools and societies ... and, when he finds the time, launch the occasional rocket!

He became interested in video meteor detection work following a chance discovery on eBay during the summer of 2010 when he found some fast, short focal length c-mount camera lenses for sale. Realising that these would fit to a low light video camera that he already had from some previous experiments (observing satellites) he went ahead and purchased them. His first permanently mounted camera setup was Ravensmoor North (commissioned in October 2010 - right hand camera in the above image) followed by Ravensmoor East in March 2011. A third camera was commissioned in January 2013.

Research on the web highlighted the value of dual station collaborations such as that between Robert Cobain and Armagh Observatory, METREC or the SonotaCo Network but initial attempts to find a collaborator proved fruitless until he stumbled across a forum posting by Alex Pratt.

In October 2015, William deployed a 4th camera dedicated to spectral analysis.


Early in 2016 William deployed a system for detecting meteors via radio using the GRAVES RADAR that is located near Dijon in France. With extensive help from Paul Hyde, the system was optimised in March 2016.

Home assembled antenna, built (with the help of my daughter Kathryn) following Paul Hyde's "Sky at Night" design, mounted externally on a wooden mast 2m off the ground. Antenna is mounted horizontally, pointed directly at GRAVES (Az 134.0° from Ravensmoor) at an elevation of 10°.

Fun Cube Dongle (FCD) is connected to the antenna via 20m of RG58 Mil Spec coaxial cable with an SMA Connector (from WestLake Electronics) fitted at one end. FCD is mounted internally in an observatory within a plastic enclosure. The FCD is connected to the data acquisition PC via a 1.5m USB extension lead. The PC is running Spectrum Lab with Paul Hyde's latest scripts. The observing frequency is set to 143.048 MHz.
Contained within the same plastic enclosure as the FCD is a USB Temperature logger that logs ambient temperature, relative humidity and dew point. This is to investigate whether diurnal variations seen in the Trigger Point frequency are associated with the ambient conditions around the FCD.

Further information and links relating to the detection and analysis of "radio" meteors can be found on Chris & Victoria's page.