The Draconid meteor shower peaked yesterday. Observers in the Western Hemisphere were disappointed that the shower was not clearly visible. We could, however, listen to the shower on radar using our computers.
NASA Image of Falling Draconid Meteor (Public Domain)
The peak of the Draconid meteor shower occurred at 20:00 UT–4:00 pm my time. It was a brilliant fall day here in Atlanta. The high temperature was 78°F (26°C) and the low was 57°F (14°C). Bright sunshine slanted through sparse clouds. Beautiful though the day was, the observing conditions for meteors were terrible–unless you were listening to radar.
Fortunately, I was able to listen on my computer to the Draconids on Spaceweatherradio.com. The website, (sponsored by the Roswell Astronomy Club of Roswell, New Mexico) broadcasts the signal from the U.S. Air Force Space Surveillance Radar as it bounces back from meteors. Stan Nelson, a radio engineer in Roswell, has a rooftop antenna that picks up the echoes from the meteors and broadcasts them over the Internet on a live feed. Thank you, Spaceweatherradio.com
For the benefit of other radio enthusiasts, Nelson gives the technical details his apparatus as follows:
I’m currently tuned to 216.97927 MHz. using (USB) Upper Side Band on a ICOM R8500 receiver. The antenna is a 13 element yagi pointing east with a 15 degrees upward tilt. The receiver audio is sent to a ACER PC (Vista Windows) line input. The audio is encoded running Edcast using AAC at 16Kb. I have a 20 db. pre-amp at the antenna feeding about 50 ft of RG8.
You can listen to recordings of spectacular meteors of the past at a Nasa site: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast22dec98_1/.
The Diaconid meteor showers are associated with the 21P/Giacobini–Zinner, a Jupiter Family comet. Technical details about the comet may be found in Nasa’s JPL Small-Body Database Browser at http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=21P.
Credits and References
“Draconids show expected outburst.” International Meteor Organization. http://www.imo.net (Accessed October 9, 2011).
“The Ghost of Fireballs Past.” NASA Science: Science News. December 21, 1998. http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast22dec98_1/ (Accessed October 9, 2011).
“Live Radar Audio Feed–how do we do it?” www.spaceweatherradio.com. http://www.spaceweatherradio.com/navspasur.php?PHPSESSID=fao8b3d806nhmpko6q9qgtiml3 (Accessed October 9, 2011).
Space Weather Radio. www.spaceweatherradio.com (Accessed October 8, 2011).