Over the past year you might have heard mention of Astronomical Society of Edinburgh (ASE) members’ meteor detection cameras. We now have cameras operated by four ASE members in the UK, a camera in Slovakia and soon to be one in Germany, with others in the pipeline.
All these cameras are part of the Global Meteor Network (GMN) whose goal is “… to establish a decentralized science-grade instrument which observes the night sky every night of the year from as many locations around the world as possible.”
Here in the UK the cameras are also part of the UK Meteor Network (UKMON) which currently consists of 189 cameras.
Last year, UK cameras detected and recorded 1,615,558 meteors contributing 77,992 orbital trajectories to the Global Meteor Network archive. ASE member cameras in the UK each detected between 10,000 and 26,000 meteors last year.
The brightest meteor of last year was a Perseid caught on Mark’s camera at magnitude -6.77:
December was a particularly good month with the Geminids shower coinciding with some clear skies and darker nights. ASE UK cameras detected 1814 meteors that month with their tracks highlighted below on the map of the UK and Ireland. You can see that our cameras picked up meteors as far south as Kent and as far north as the Shetland Islands.
Once a camera is set up and running there is minimal effort required; the detection and processing is all automated. You can sit back and check your camera each morning, via the IstraStream website, to see what you have captured and watch your all-night timelapse video over breakfast. Not only do you get the chance to monitor meteors from home, but you are also contributing data that has a real-world scientific benefit.
“Meteor showers and their outbursts are the dominant source of meteoroid impact risk to spacecraft on short time scales” arXiv:2206.11365v1 “The GMN data will be used by NASA to update their risk assessments of meteoroid impacts to spacecraft.” Denis Vida
If you are interested in finding out more, visit the UKMON website or the ASE Meteor cameras page.
Article by Pat Devine
Main banner image from Tosh White’s south facing camera UK006Y on 12/8/2022 during Perseids maximum
You can watch the excellent talk Dr Denis Vida of the Global Meteor Network gave us on our YouTube channel: