2015, Februay 11 - The re-entry of ESA's fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle over the South Pacific took much of our time the past months. Plan was to observe the reentry from NASA's DC-8 Airborne Laboratory. Jim Albers did navigational planning and Mike Koop assisted in the instrument upload. Bob Haberman was on standby as alternate. Sadly, yesterday it was decided that ATV-5 had to be re-entered immediately after undock on February 14 due to a power chain malfunction on February 3. The observing campaign is now postponed until another opportunity to enter a vehicle along a shallow path. [More]
2015, January 1 - Happy New Year from the CAMS team! Latest news is that the December 29 fireball spectrum was recorded in great detail. Peter Gural created this composite image, the meteor moving from bottom to top.
Possible Meteorite Fall Alert!
Compilation of fall area predictions. All possible radar reflections (from KMUX and KDAX radars) are shown as blocked regions. Only the top left reflection was strong. Calculated fall areas from the radar reflections, courtesy M. Fries, are shown as polygons. The CAMS-derived strewn field by P. Jenniskens is the light band.
2014, December 30 - Update: Marc Fries of NASA JSC reports that two sweeps of the nearby KMUX doppler weather show fairly intense reflectivity hits 2.1 km over the calculated fall area. These reflections appear only once, about 9 minutes after the fireball, consistent with being caused by reflections off about 1 gram stones. "Past experience shows that the 1-10 gram stones are the most likely to appear on radar just because of their abundance.", says Fries. Note added by Jenniskens: "If the radar marks the 1-gram point, then the calculated fall area may need to be shifted slightly down track along the white line in the map and could be slightly more compact, as would have been the case if fragments disrupted lower in the atmosphere than assumed (lower than 40 km)." [ Radar Reflectivity Map (Courtesy NOAA/M. Fries)] [Relative to calculated fall area]
Dec 29 01:43:39 UT fireball as seen in the two video cameras 174 and 171 at CAMS station Sunnyvale (Jim Albers). Click for higher resolution.
Peter Jenniskens calculated this fall area of possible meteorites based on preliminary data. Stay tuned for possible updates.
The trajectory of the meteoroid over the San Francisco Bay Area. Image courtesy of Jim Albers.
2014, December 29 - On Sunday evening Dec 28 at 5:43:39 p.m. PST (= Dec 29 at 01:43:39 UT), a rock from space entered Earth's atmosphere and a bright fireball was seen over the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The fireball reached a peak brightness of about a first quarter Moon. The American Meteor Society received 22 reports from eye witnesses. Initial reports suggested the meteor was in the Stockton area, but the CAMS video stations Sunnyvale (Jim Albers) and Lick Observatory (Bryant Grigsby) captured this meteor during routine observations of NASA's Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance project (CAMS), which is in the process of mapping the meteor showers in the sky. According to the triangulated trajectory, a preliminary result calculated from only a small part of the collected data by the lead of the CAMS project, SETI Institute meteor astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens, the meteor first appeared at around 100 km altitude, impacting Earth from a steep 30 degree inclined orbit. It was moving at about 24 kilometers per second in south-eastern direction, at an angle about 32 degrees with the horizontal, when it passed at 71 km altitude over the center of San Francisco, moving in the direction of Mount Hamilton. The Lick Observatory station located at Mount Hamilton saw it come towards it, in an unusually foreshortened track. Further down in the atmosphere, the rock broke into pieces, captured by camera 171 at Sunnyvale. "It was not terribly bright and a bit on the fast side, but if anything survived, meteorites may have fallen just north of Mount Hamilton", says Jenniskens. "Prevailing winds were blowing along the track, causing meteorites to drift only slightly from the calculated path." When the fireball happened, Jenniskens was servicing the CAMS station at Mount Hamilton. He is disappointed to not have seen the fireball himself. "But what an incredible luck that meteorites may have come to me this time, perhaps raining down in the area," he says. "I hope that someone finds a piece." Look for small rocks (partially) covered in a thin black crust.
This video (courtesy: NASA/CAMS) shows the meteor as detected in the spectrographic cameras of the CAMS station Sunnyvale. Note that only a fraction of the light stays in this zero-order image, the rest goes into the spectrum. As a result, the image is less bloomed than usual. [Video avi (3.2 Mb) ]
2015, January 1 - Jim Albers is reporting that comet Lovejoy has just showed up in our CAMS cameras. Can you find it in this image of camera 84 of the Lick Observatory station? If not, click on the image for a search chart.
2014, December 9 - CAMS New Zealand captured two slow-moving fireballs in November, among a total of 467 other meteors. The one on Nov. 18 at 10:58:38 UT (13.7 km/s, 4.7s long) was headed straight into the ocean. It was first seen at 83.2 km altitude. However, the one on November 2 at 15:15:54 UT came in at 14.2 km/s and was filmed for 5.7 seconds before it moved below the camera fields. It was first seen at 86.3 km, right over the radar site and relatively high for such a slow meteor, suggesting that this was a bright event. If it was bright enough, this one could have dropped meteorites near Stag And Spey, or NE of there in the hills.
2014, November 24 - The new Foresthill station increased the yield of the CAMS network significantly. November 24 produced 430 accurate trajectories. Jim Wray's new station added components to 41 of these meteors (improving their precision), while adding 59 unique trajectories by overlapping with Sunnyvale. The result is a stunning 1-day image of shower activity. The figure above compares this year's results with the combined 4-year tally from 2010-2013. This year, the Leonids appear to have had an outburst that was still active on November 24.
2014, November 24 - Jim Wray of Foresthill, CA, reports that a low-cost version of CAMS, based on 16 cameras connected to two 8 channel grabbers on a single PC computer, is running successfully. The system uses low-cost Sony Effio cameras, which are about a magnitude less sensitive than the Watec 902H2 Ultimate cameras, but much more affordable. The system also uses the new 8-channel board single-CAMS software developed and tested by Pete Gural. Dave Samuels is working on developing the scripts to run the system autonomously. In a first manual run tonight, 904 meteor images were detected by the 16 cameras, albeit with some duplicates because of field overlaps. All cameras were calibrated against the star background.
Meet CAMS at BeNeLux - From left to right (with camera numbers): Casper ter Kuile, Robert Haas (361/362/363/364), Hans Betlem (371/372/373), Erwin van Ballegoij (347), Klaas Jobse (331/332/337/338), Piet Neels (341/342), Adriana Nicolae, Paul Roggemans (383/384), Jacques Bouw (349), Paul Lindsay (356), Franky Dubois (385), Steve Rau (386), Martin Breukers (321/322/323/324 /325/326), Steve Rau jr., Felix Bettonvil (376), Marc Neyts (346). Photo: Carl Johannink (311/312/313/314). Not present: Jean Marie Biets (381/382) and Koen Miskotte (351/352).
2014, November 12 - Carl Johannink and Martin Breukers report on a successful meeting in Heesch. The graph above shows the location of the CAMS BeNeLux stations and aiming points. The yield was 1262 meteors in October. Marc Neyts, Peter Bus, Jacques Bouw and Felix Betonvil are planning new stations.