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Shooting Stars by Jeremy Exelby

Telescope Making > ATM Diaries 2

Counting Shooting Stars using a Car Radio by Jeremy Exelby – March 2012
Part 1 - Short Project Description

Introduction

Shooting stars are surprising things – for starters, they are not stars at all, and are typically the size of a grain of sand.  These small particles are traveling through space at high speeds, so when they encounter the air of our atmosphere, they heat up and burn, and the hot trail of gas and dust is what we see as a shooting star.  Shooting stars are also called meteors.

Another surprising thing about meteors is that they are unpredictable - they appear without warning as we watch the night sky.  Now you see it, now you don’t - the trails last just a few seconds at best, so it is futile to grab for your camera if you see a shooting star – it will be long gone by the time you press the shutter button.

There are ways of getting around this problem – like fixing your camera onto a tripod, pointing your camera to the sky and leaving the shutter open, or by using a video camera. However, these optical approaches can only be used some of the time because the light signature of a meteor is usually not bright, so…

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