Meteor Detection and Radio Astronomy

Our meteor live view, as shown on this website, is one of several representations of our data. It is useful for immediate visual comparison of meteor events and casual viewing. For proper data analysis, two dimensional graphs are used, because they provide more accurate indices for time and Doppler shift and can be analysed directly by software.

On this page are some examples that are shown by our system for different events. This will help you understand and interpret what you are seeing.

Each view is a one minute time slice. So we display what was detected over the preceding one minute interval. In our building the screens are live in real-time and therefore constantly changing. We cannot serve live feeds shorter than one minute over the internet because of the large bandwidth requirements.

A Typical Meteor Event

This triangular shape is typical of a meteor event. This view is of a small object (meteoroid) which is decelerating rapidly, while the ionised trail is gaining energy. this will be the typical "shooting star" that you see in the night sky.

During a meteor shower you will see several of these in each view. the smaller spikes are very tiny dust particles burning up in the atmosphere. These would not normally be visible to the naked eye.

Man Made Space Junk

This detection is of a Russian Soyuz Rocket re-entry 24th December 2011

The Space Race began in October 1957 when Russia launched Sputnik-1 into Earth Orbit, followed shortly by Sputnik-2. Since then, numerous satellites and rocket bodies have been launched into space. With the exception of satellites designed to leave Earth’s Orbit, everything that goes up must eventually come down!

We can detect this man-made space junk as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and study the data.

Tropospheric Scatter / Sporadic - E

Our ground stations are purposely hidden from the radar transmitting station so that they only show the reflected signal from the sky. But sometimes the source pulses themselves can be clearly seen on our screen. This is because certain atmospheric conditions such as tropospheric scatter, tropospheric ducting and ionospheric sporadic-E can also reflect or refract the signal back to our receiving stations. Tropospheric propagation is commonplace in the Spring and Autumn months, especially during stable weather periods of high pressure, whereas sporadic-E events are rare at VHF and occur mainly in June/July.

Other Detections

Our receivers are very sensitive and can detect numerous objects in space and orbiting the Earth, including the Moon some 240,000 miles away. Here are some examples of these detections.

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