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Surfin’: Following Meteors

03/01/2013

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ chases meteors at the Radio Meteor Observation Bulletin website.

Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW -- this week’s guest surfer -- wrote the following about meteors.

Several thousand meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these occur over oceans and uninhabited regions, and many are masked by the sunlight. Those that occur at night are rarely noticed by people. As a result, there are only a handful of reported meteorites (meteors that hit the ground) each year.

On Friday, February 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM YEKT (0320 UTC), a bolide (a bright meteor that often is accompanied by a sonic boom) with a long white smoke trail blazing behind it streaked over the southern Ural Mountains near the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, an industrial city 930 miles east of Moscow. A huge shockwave followed blowing out glass windows; more than 1200 people had glass-related injuries. The explosion was so powerful that it knocked down a wall, partially collapsing the roof on a defense industry zinc plant.

According to NASA, the meteoroid was estimated at 55 feet across and weighing 10,000 tons when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 40,000 miles per hour on a 20 degree entry angle 9-15 miles above the city. It released nearly 500 kilotons of energy, which is about 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. An event of this magnitude occurs once every 100 years on average.

If you missed the news about it, Alexander Zaytsev’s website has videos and images on the event.

If you're interested in forward scatter radio meteor observations, there are some interesting resources available on the website of the Radio Meteor Observation Bulletin.

While on the RMOB website, check out a free computer program called Colorgramme Lab v2.5 by Pierre Terrier (click on the “Download” icon and then click on the “Free Windows Software” link to get the program). After downloading and installing the program, go back to the RMOB home page and click on the “Live meteor observatory” link under “Live observations” to display a Google Map that shows active participating meteor observers as indicated by the red pushpins on the map. RMOB data appears below the map, and if you installed and configured Colorgramme Lab correctly, your observatory will also appear.

RMOB is on Twitter if you want to send and read news about radio meteor observations from active observers, just click the Twitter "follow" link on the home page.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, seeks the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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