This example video [233 MByte, avi format] shows the results from one camera in the night of November 1. Early in the night, clouds obscure the stars. Airplanes are seen passing through the field of view. Later, the sky clears and numerous meteors are being detected.
Observatoire de Paris, France, Meteor stream dynamics
SWRI, Boulder, zodiacal dust cloud modelling
Mission statement - CAMS is an automated video surveillance of the night sky in search of meteors to validate minor showers in the IAU Working List of Meteor Showers. Stations are located in California. [Contact]
This week's meteor activity a year ago as measured by CAMS:
2012, April 16 - This coming Saturday, April 21, we are planning to continue the search for meteorites from the September 2011 fireball in Dos Palos. Weather is looking good: clear and warm 90F. However, the recent wet weather has delayed the harvest of the alfalfa. We should learn the coming days if this can be accomplished by Saturday. If the alfalfa has not yet been harvested at that time, we plan to continue the search the week after on Saturday April 28. More updates later. Keep tuned.
First search for the 2011 September 18 fireball remains in Dos Palos:
2012, March 10 - No luck yet, but what a great effort! Today, a ragtag group of local science teachers and students, members of the meteorite interest group at NASA Ames, and operators of CAMS morphed into a real NASA/CAMS meteorite recovery team. In beautiful weather conditions, 27 searchers performed a systematic search of one of two fields that may contain small (<1 gram) meteorites from the September 18 fireball. After meeting at Dos Palos High School in the morning, all were educated on the topic of meteorites by NASA Ames Research Center's meteorite experts, who explained what to look for. We then traveled to the field, where the farm manager greeted us. After taking a group photo, the search was on. The searchers got a real workout. They systematically swept the alfalfa field from 9 am to 4:30 pm, walking in all five times back and forth across the field, some 6 miles total, at a brisk pace. With the exception of only a small corner, the whole field was searched one time.
Weather will not permit a search this weekend. We hope to take up the effort again on April 21 (tentative date), when we expect the alfalfa to have been harvested and the second field is accessible as well. Keep tuned.
2012, March 7 - Preparations are underway to conduct a search for (very small) meteorites in the California central valley from this September 18 CAMS fireball (picture above courtesy of NASA/Lick Observatory). This was a fairly small asteroid impacting Earth's atmosphere, as far as the usual recovered meteorite falls go. If anything survived, small fragments would have widely dispersed. Hence, this is a long shot indeed. Dr. Jenniskens aims to see if, when looking for small fragments, meteorites can be recovered from such a small event and, perhaps, produce uncommon meteorites.
Weather permitting, we will meet in the parking lot of the Dos Palos High School at 8 a.m. on Saturday March 10. If you like to volunteer in this effort, please email Principal Investigator Dr. Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute. The search is organized in collaboration with the land owners, with NASA Ames Research Center's Education and Public Outreach office of the Lunar Science Institute, with CAMS participants, and with help of the SJV Challenger Learning Center in Atwater.
2012, March 1 - 1586. That is the number of meteors extracted from CAMS data for a single night: the peak Geminid night of Dec 14 UT. All 60 cameras were operational, as well as 1 single-CAMS camera. First night this happened was 12/11, but that night was partially clouded. In next partialy clear night, 12/13, the count went up to 966. The figure above shows the number of meteors to which each camera provided a component. The tally of reduced meteoroid orbits for 2011 (including a bit of 2010) is now 39,500.
2012, February 17 - Peter Jenniskens completed the recalculation of past data to include saturation correction and an improved error calculation. The tally of orbits is now 28,782, with data reduction complete up to 2011/10/9. Today, also a new volunteer named Chris Baun started working on Friday afternoon's at the SETI Institute to help the data reduction effort.
2012, February 12 - Jim Albers has installed network switched at the Fremont Peak CAMS station. The units are now time-synchronised to the most stable platform 2. Jim also downloaded the last of the backed up data on unit two at Fremont Peak from the period Nov 6-21.
2012, February 11 - Pete Gural has made further improvements of the CAMS software. Make sure to use the latest software version when reprocessing the data. The timeoffsets file should now include the station code.
2012, February 5 - Jim Albers installed a network switch at Lick Observatory, time-synchronizing all units to unit 8. Lick's unit 2 is continuing to show system hard disc problems, causing some loss of data in January.
2012, January 31 - A paper on the Daytime Arietids by Peter Jenniskens, Heather Duckworth and Briant Grigsby was submitted to JIMO.
2012, January 25 - With help of Lorena Perez, Jim Albers installed a network switch at the Sunnyvale station and was able to time-synchronize the units to that of No. 11.
2012, January 18 - Winter has finally arrived in California. Nearly all of November, December and much of January were warm and clear, providing CAMS with great data. The next few days, however, are expected to bring rain.
2012, January 12 - Great news. Pete Gural has completed a version of single-CAMS capture software that processes the data at the same time, so that the astrometric results of a night are immediately available in the morning. No re-processing required. The software is being tested by Dave Samuels.
2012, January 3 - Tonights Quadrantid shower should be good for California. The radiant is high in the sky when the shower peaks 2-3 am tomorrow morning. The graph above shows the anticipated hourly counts. For other locations, go here (Select shower 10, date and place).
2012, January 1 - A very happy 2012 to all who make CAMS a success! The project is evolving and getting better all the time. Change is in the nature of things. The graph above shows the change in pointing direction of cameras 33 and 102 during the year. Both cameras are stationed at Fremont Peak Observatory on a very sturdy mount. Nevertheless, a new tool developed by Pete Gural shows gradual changes of the pointing direction, which is why we calibrate the cameras every night.
2011, December 23 - Tonight was the first night of operations for the Single-CAMS San Mateo College Observatory station (#210, SM), operated by Dean Drumheller.
2011, December 20 - New paper testing the first dynamical Zodiacal Cloud model: We have discovered why we see meteors flash through the night sky while they seemingly rain down on us gently at the same time! In a paper published in the December 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal, David Nesvorny, Diego Janches, David Vokrouhlicky, Petr Pokorny, William F. Bottke, and Peter Jenniskens reconciled models of the zodiacal cloud with radar observations, revealing a game of hide and seek and an interesting identity switcharoo.
[Press release (Dec20)] [Article]
2011, December 18 - Jim Albers reduced some of the data for December 9 to find these positions of the meteors in the Sunnyvale station cameras. Each image is a projection of azimuth and elevation of all detections (including airplanes, noise, etc.) from CAMS processed files projected to 90km altitude. Color indicates time in the night, with dark voilet = 0100z, to blue, green, yellow, orange, red, to white at 1500z.
2011, December 14 - During routine low-light level video observations with CAMS (Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance) in the period April 26 - May 7, we detected the April Rho Cygnids (ARC), a meteor stream discovered by the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) project in the years 2002 - 2009. The stream is included in the IAU Working list of Meteor Showers as shower #348, awaiting verification. CMOR data show ARC activity from April 25 - May 4, peaking on April 28. We detected this shower on all dates, peaking on April 28 and May 1 in 2011. The orbital parameters we found match the CMOR data. Our mean orbital elements are (N = 29): q = 0.844 +/- 0.034 AU, 1/a = 0.18 +/- 0.10 1/AU, i = 69.7 +/- 2.8 deg, w = 130.4 +/- 6.2 deg, and Node = 39.9 +/- 2.9 deg. The parent body of the ARC remains unknown, but from the recent evolution of the stream, we provide a range of possible current orbits.
M. Phillips, P. Jenniskens, B. Grigsby, 2011. Confirmation of the April Rho Cygnids (ARC, IAU#348). JIMO 39, 131-136 [PDF]
2011, December 13 - Geminid maximum. New station Foresthill (214) has come online tonight. The figure below shows the coverage area of the Foresthill camera in relation to other cameras in the network. Operator James D. (Jim) Wray, now retired, is author of the 1967 book "The computation of orbits of doubly photographed meteors", which he wrote when he was director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
2011, December 2 - Jim Albers calculated the above coverage of the three stations at the present time. The Sunnyvale station would overlap better with Lick and Mountain View if it was tilted by 10 degrees from the vertical to the SE. However, we would like to invite single CAMS users to overlap the region north and south of Lick/Fremont Peak region that is not covered by a second camera at the moment.
2011, November 26 - The Mountain View station was moved to Sunnyvale. Jim and Diana Albers are now hosting the Lodi/Mountain View Station in Sunnyvale, California, not far from the original location in Mountain View. In the picture above, Mike Koop mounts the timer, while Jim Albers and Peter Jenniskens supervise. At this new site, there are no trees to speak of in the field of view. The cameras are placed on the roof of a small sunroom, which houses the computers. November 27 (UT) was the first night of operations from Sunnyvale and all cameras operated successfully.
2011, November 23 - Peter Jenniskens has finished processing backed up data from the Lick and Lodi stations.
2011, November 15 - David Sammuels and Pete Gural have worked to solve some outstanding issues with EasyCams and Dave has now delivered the first batch of reduced observations from Brentwood, California. The data were included in the CAMS data reduction pipeline and produced excellent results, adding about 20 trajectories to each night of data. Dave obtained a nearly continuous dataset from August 15 onwards.
2011, November 8 - Lodi station moved to its winter location in Mountain View. Mike Koop and Peter Jenniskens visited Heritage Oak Winery to move the Lodi station back to Mountain View. The wind shield and computer housing remain in Lodi. Thule fog makes observing from the central valley difficult in winter, while coastal fog prevents observing from Mountain View in summer. Update: The Mountain View station is back in operation per November 9 (UT).
2011, October 31 - While Peter was on mission in Europe, Rick Morales and colleagues of Fremont Peak Observatory monitored operations at Fremont Peak. A perfect record resulted with data from September 23 to October 31. Only Oct 12-16 were clouded.
2011, October 29 - Peter Jenniskens gave a talk on CAMS at the "Landelijke Meteorendag der Lage Landen" at the Halley Sterrewacht in Heesch, the Netherlands. Dutch and Belgian observers expressed an interest in setting up single-cams stations.
2011, October 21-27 - Carl Johannink (Gronau) and Peter Jenniskens (Meterik) operated four cameras on five nights and captured 104 meteors, adding to the meteors recorded in the CAMS network in California (still to be reduced).
2011, October 8 - Two of the CAMS units from station Lodi were used successfully to observe the 2011 Draconid meteor shower from Kuehlungsborn and Lebatz in northern Germany. First results from 28 Draconid trajectories and orbits show that the meteors originated from the 1900 dust ejecta of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.
2011, September 24 - Larry Stange, operator of the Yuba City's Sentinel all sky video camera for many years, has passed away at the age of 77. Ten days before his passing, he informed that the Yuba City camera would be permanently off-line. His biggest success was the capture of the August 11, 2007, fireball that resulted in the recovery of only the second meteorite in California from a witnessed fall.
2011, September 15 - First Single Camera CAMS station operational. Dave Samuels has operated one Watec 902 H2 Ultimate camera from Brentwood since August 15. On that first night, he recorded just over 70 events during the night. Now the rest of CAMS data has been reduced also, we find that the single Brentwood camera added 31 more meteor tracks to the CAMS network, plus adding a line of sight to a 32nd meteor, mostly by correlating tracks with Lodi cameras 12 and 114. These cameras are not covered by the Fremont Peak and Lick stations. The figure above shows the end points of the recorded meteors on August 15. More on participating single camera CAMS stations here.
2011, September 5 - Eta Eridanids confirmed! In the night of August 10, 2011, a total of 433 meteors were detected, the highest nightly tally so far. Only 140 or so were Perseids. The rest paint an interesting picture of non-Perseid activity, including late activity from the Southern delta Aquariids (SDA), the diffuse Southern iota-Aquariids (SIA) and Northern delta Aquariids (NDA). The eta Eridanids (ERI) are now confirmed. This shower was first reported in 2001 by K. Ohtsuka, T. Tanigawa, H. Murayama, and I. Hasegawa (ESA SP 495, 109-111). The shower is linked to comet C/1852 K1 (Charcornac). There is als some evidence for a shower related to the beta Perseids or August Triangulids (BPE/TRI). The identitiy of the latter shower is under investigation.
2011, September 4 - Today we passed 10,000 meteors reduced! You can keep track of the count here.
2011, September 1 - Now Meridel Phillips is back to continue her studies at the University of Rochester, David Holman has volunteered to help with the data reduction. Today, he has completed the June 30 - July 6 period. Bob Haberman, who took care of much of February, has completed his move to a new city and intends to pick up the data reduction on Sept. 7.
2011, August 19 - Today was SETI REU student Meridel Phillips' last day at the SETI Institute. She wrapped up a very successful summer by submitting a paper on the confirmation of the April Rho Cygnids to JIMO. This is her first research paper.
2011, August 12 - The peak of the Perseids in the night of August 12 was mostly clouded out this year from locations near the San Francisco Bay Area. August 11 and 13 were clear.
2011, August 7 - CAMS article featured on front cover of the Journal of the International Meteor Organization.
2011, August 4 - The NASA Workshop on Meteor Video Observations and Analysis was held in Pisgah, North Carolina, on August 4 and 5. Pete Gural (photo) and Peter Jenniskens gave presentations about the CAMS system. The meeting was organized by the NASA Meteoroid Environmental Office and held at PARI, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, a former NASA tracking station and now an educational center and astronomical research institute. One of the ongoing projects is the digitization of the 1950's Harvard Meteor Program photographic data, covering both plates from the Prairy Fireball Network and the Super Schmidt camera projects. [Agenda] [Photos from the meeting]