|v) For recording meteors, what should we record?
For information on what to record for visual observing, check out our NAMN
Observing Guide at: http://www.namnmeteors.org/guide.html
This gives the basic info on what visual data we usually record for each
meteor - time of occurrence, brightness (magnitude), shower it belonged to,
speed of meteor, how long the trail lasted if it had one, and any color or
While rates are low, before and after the peaks on November 18/19, and on the
nights leading up to and after November 18/19, an observer can either use a tape
recorder or a paper roll or recording sheets to write their meteor data on.
Recording sheets can be printed off from http://www.namnmeteors.org/namn_form.html
When the Leonid rates start to really pick up, all of this info will not be
possible to record on tape, or on a written paper roll, for each meteor. Most of
us will then revert to just times and magnitudes of Leonids - and not record
meteors from minor showers. If rates get even higher, then an observer will have
to devise their own recording strategy. Some observers in the past have resorted
to just calling 'beep' onto their tape under these sorts of conditions. Make
sure you continue to put time markers on your tape though - preferably every
minute in periods of enhanced activity. A talking watch or clock (available at
supplies for the blind) makes this much easier.
If the rates get so high that you cannot count, be prepared to switch to your
camera to record them! For photographic observations, record the start
and stop times for each exposure, and details on film, camera lens and f/stop
used. Basically, fast film and fast lenses are good, but exposures may have to
be shortened to a handful of minutes to counteract the full moon sky conditions.
For beginners, or those trying astrophotography for the very first time, read
the excellent articles by Dennis di Cicco at http://skyandtelescope.com/howto/imaging/article_159_1.asp
and by Pierre Martin at http://www.oaog.ca/Meteors/IntroPhoto.htm
for serious meteor photographers can be found on the IMO website at http://www.imo.net/photo/index.html
For video observations, again, record the start and stop times for your
exposures, and details on your video camera settings. Information on special
meteor video techniques can be found on the IMO website at http://www.imo.net/video/index.html
A suggestion was posted to our MeteorObs email list on October 14th by Rob
McNaught: "It would be nice to have some standardization in video
observations to help analyze activity. Pointing the camera at the celestial pole
(Polaris for northern observers) will give a constant radiant elongation and
Moon elongation throughout the night and for most observers, a camera elevation
of ~45 +/- 10 deg... arbitrarily placing cameras over the sky must complicate
For those technical (perhaps deep sky) observers wanting to use their CCD
equipment to capture meteor activity, check out the CCD's and Astrophotography
page at http://pages.sprint.ca/todd/files/ccd.html
for links which may prove
useful. You will find helpful information in the IMO links as well at http://www.imo.net/video/index.html
(However - and this is important - never be intimidated by instructions! If
you do not have the equipment recommended by the experts for photography or
video work - try anyway! You don't always have to use the 'recommended' types of
film. You don't always have to have the 'recommended' camera. You may be into
photography for the joy of photography. Experiment and enjoy yourself while
watching your Leonids!)
In all cases, and especially if you travel, get a reading on your location's
latitude and longitude. Note your weather conditions. Note what percentage of
your sky is obscured by buildings or trees. Note your limiting magnitude - how
faint is the faintest star you can see? Check out the charts available for
judging limiting magnitude at http://www.imo.net/visual/major01.html#table2
print yourself off a set if you are serious about your observations.
There is a meteor 'storm' simulation on the website of the IMO, the
International Meteor Organization. It was written by Sirko Molau, the IMO Video
Commission Director. Check it out at http://www.imo.net/
under Software. It is
called MetSim. It is good practice for estimating just how well you would be
able to judge really high meteor rates!
In all cases, record all the data you can. We need as much coverage around
the globe as we can get. If you have questions, drop an email to our NAMN
Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
After the peak is all over, and you are doing up your visual report, an email
template to use in typing out your observations is available at http://www.namnmeteors.org/appendixC.html
Then email off your report to our NAMN Coordinator at email@example.com.
Photographic and video reports can be sent to NAMN, and we will also forward
them on to the International Meteor Organization for you.
Links to Leonids Web Sites
Peak Online Estimator: If you want to find out the estimated peak times for where you live, go to this site, and check out your location. At the bottom of the screen is a flux calculator. Pick the city closest to you and launch the calculator. It should give you a pretty good idea what the times will be for your area.