A standard observing method for visual meteor observers has been used since the late 1980s which is both comprehensive for serious analyses of meteor showers and simple enough to be employed by everybody at any place of the world. The IMO Handbook for Meteor Observers describes the method in detail. Every meteor astronomer is invited to make use of the method in order to obtain comparable results, and to send in her or his data to the global database maintained by the IMO.
The main objectives of the IMO’s visual observing program are:
- to study the structure of major meteor showers by means of hourly rate profiles and magnitude distributions;
- to study the physical parameters of meteoroid streams such as the flux density of particles in space and their mass distribution;
- to monitor the minor-shower activity by plotting meteors into star charts for a more objective association of meteors with weakly active radiants.
- to monitor meteor activity for unexpected events throughout the year;
- to study the sporadic background, following the annual activity.
All observational data are stored in the Visual Meteor Database (VMDB). This central archive of amateur visual observations is open to:
- analyses of activity profiles, population index profiles, flux density profiles and mass index profiles;
- IMO members and professional meteor astronomers, for access to its data.
For further information and questions about visual work within the IMO, the Visual Commission will gladly assist you.
Visual Commission Director: Rainer Arlt, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, An der Sternwarte 16, D-14482 Potsdam, Germany.
Video Observation is the youngest and one of the most advanced observing techniques in meteor science. Professional astronomers started to use video equipment at the beginning of the seventies, among amateurs the Japanese (1986) and Dutch (1987) observers have been the first using this technology. By now, video observations of amateurs have reached a semi-professional level as appreciated by the corresponding IAU Commission 22. In fact, regular observations of meteor shower with automatic video systems have started in Germany in 1999, and the number of participating observers is growing ever since. To actively support further developments, a Video Commission of IMO was founded after a one year preparation phase at the 1997 IMC in Petnica. As a basis for the work of the commission acts a paper that was published in WGN at that time.
Video Commission Director: Sirko Molau, Abenstalstr. 13b, 84072 Seysdorf, Germany.
Photographic work is organized to encourage observers to photograph as many meteor trails as possible. Modern DSLR cameras offer considerably more flexibility and convenience than film based techniques for regular meteor photography.
The main objectives of the IMO’s photographic program are:
- to encourage the use of DSLR cameras to collect meteor spectra and the investigation of meteor trains;
- collecting photographed meteor trails for astrometric reduction in order to obtain a large enough database to study by statistical methods the distribution of accurately measured meteor trails;
- setting up double station programs in order to obtain meteor heights and trajectories in the atmosphere, to accurately determine the radiant position of individual meteors and their heliocentric orbits. In particular supporting fireball observations;
- build an archive of meteor images in a suitable standard format for reference use. The Commission would also like to receive images from observers who catch attractive chance meteor images. These will also be archived but could be featured in WGN and other IMO material;
More information can be obtained from the IMO Photographic Commission.
Photographic Commission Director: Bill Ward, Glasgow University, School of Engineering, Rankine Building, Oakfield Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8LT, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Please use the Online fireball report form to report your fireball observations (available in 30 languages!).
You can integrate the fireball form into your own website, creating a fireball form in your own language without any reference to IMO! Find more information here.
Radio work is a simple but useful means of checking the overall meteor activity; rain, clouds, daylight, city lights, … all these problems to visual and photographic work are ruled out. No radar is needed. For instance commercial broadcasting stations beneath the horizon produce sufficient radio waves to be reflected by meteor trails, if geometric circumstances are favorable. Radio meteor work is rather unpopular and poorly known; the IMO intends to change this situation and has therefore created a radio observing program. The aims of this program are:
- to cover the overall meteor activity on a more continuous basis (day and night), down to the fainter, poorly studied, magnitude classes (+10);
- to study the relationship between visual meteor appearances, their brightness and the duration of the received radio echo signal.
For further information and questions about radio work within the IMO, the Radio Commission will gladly assist you.
Radio Commission Director: Jean-Louis Rault, Société Astronomique de France, 16, Rue de la Vallée, 91360 Epinay sur Orge, France.