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“Meteor imaging has seen a huge transformation in recent years,” says Tracie Heywood (pictured), director of the Society for Popular Astronomy Meteor Section. “Historically, imaging was based around photographic film, which suffered the disadvantages of low capture rates, time-consuming manual processing and many ‘wasted’ (meteor-less)
exposures. The switch to digital imaging has increased capture rates and meteor-less images can now simply be deleted and the disc space reused. The big advances have, however, involved imaging using video cameras, particularly when the cameras are automated and coordinated to monitor the same parts of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
“Software running with the cameras picks up, measures and saves video clips of moving objects that may be meteors. The camera operator can leave the system running overnight and, having had a good night’s sleep, review the video clips the next morning. A few amateurs are taking the additional step of placing diffraction gratings in front of their cameras. The spectra these capture give an indication of the composition of meteors.
“There are two groups of amateurs coordinating video observations in the UK and Ireland. One is NEMETODE (www. nemetode.org ). The other is UKMON (https://ukmeteornetwork.co.uk).”