Radio Astronomy

December Meteors.

Did anyone catch a Geminid or even an Ursid?? Based on reflected signals from the Graves radar installation 3641 meteors were detected over the month of December. The average daily rate was 5 meteors / hr. with a maximum hourly count of 55 between 4-5 am on Dec 14th. The average daily rate was 118 with a maximum of 468 on the 14th Dec. Both maximums coincided with the peak of the Geminid Shower, the data showed that the best time to have viewed the shower was from 2- 6 am before, after and during the peak of activity.  There is a small peak around the 22/23 rd Dec from the Ursid shower. The pick up at the end of the month points towards the peak of the Quadrantids  around the 4th Jan.

The daily and hourly counts for the month are below, finally there is a comparison of the December activity  over the last 3 years. Although the levels are different the trends are fairly similar, the peaks of the Geminids and Ursids clearly visible in each data set.

The conditional actions settings for the spectrum lab software are the same for 2018 & 2017 but different to those in 2016. The difference in the 2017 and 2018 counts could reflect the different densities of the dust trails caused by the variations in the parent comets emissions.

November Meteors 2018.

Not much chance of visual meteor spotting over the month , but the radar setup based on the Graves 140.05 MHz signal continued to record data.

The maximum number of meteors detected over November was 2701. The average daily rate was 90 with a maximum of 135 on 20th of Nov.

The average hourly rate was 4 (3.8) with a maximum of 21 between 9am and 10am on the 20th.

The major shower in November is the Leonids, active between the 6 -30 with a peak on 17/18,  Also Taurids active between Oct 12 – Dec 2 with the Southern branch peaking on Nov 5 and the Northern Branch on the 12th.

There are also a number of other minor showers active over the month:

Andromedids  peaking on 27th

Theta Aurigids, 15th -21st peak 19th

Omicron Erianids  14th – 29th peak 22nd

Alpha Monocerotoids 13th Nov – 2nd Dec peak 21st

Chi Taurids peak Nov 2nd.

It is difficult to isolate any one shower in the data, but the hourly data shows a definite peak around the 20th, probably the sum of those showers active during that date.

The final chart shows a comparison of data from 2016 -2018, although levels vary , certainly the 2017 and 2018 data seem to mirror each other.

Next month sees the Geminid shower 6th – 19th peaking 13th /14th, with the moon set at around 22:00 there should be some good viewing around midnight. The Ursid shower peaks on the 22nd but a full moon will make observations difficult. Finally if Comet 46P/Wirtanen peaks as predicted it should be easily visible between the Pleiades and Aldebaran on 16th Dec.

October Meteors

The radar meteor detection based on the Graves frequency detected 2592 meteors during October.

The maximum daily count was 109 on the 14th Oct with an hourly maximum on the same day between 11;00 – 12:00.

This was probably due to the Delta Aurigids which have a peak activity on the 11th but this tends to spread over several days.

The average daily count was 84 and the average hourly count 4.

The Draconids peak on the 8/9 th October and a high level of activity was recorded in the late hours of the 8th , early horus of the 9th.  This meteor stream is linked with Comet 21/Giabcobini-Zimmer and it was thought its latest visitation would cause such an out burst, in fact it was due to an earlier trail of debris from the comet and could have been more spectacular.

The increase in activity can be seen on the data below , see the hourly chart for Oct 8-9.

The epsilon Geminids peaked on the 18th and the Orionids (linked with Halleys comet) peaked on the 22nd.

The hourly and daily plots are shown below as well as a comparison of the daily plots for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Next month sees the Taurids around the 12th , Taurid fireballs have already been reported ( see and the Leonids  after midnight on the 17/18, the moon shouldn’t be much of a problem.

September Meteors

September is not noted for any major meteor shower but there is activity from 9 radiants during the month, two of them mainly daytime activity.

There was a total of 1681meteors detected during September, the average hourly rate was 2.3 with a maximum of 13 between 9 and 10 am on the 13th. The average daily rate was 56 with a maximum of 86 on the 20th, the data is shown below.

The peak between 6-9 was probably due to the September Perseids, the peak on the 12th is probably the  Eta Draconids and the peak on the 29th the Delta Sextanids, particularly as most of the activity recorded was during daylight hours and this is a daytime shower.

The third chart is a comparison with the 2017 data, recorded using the same settings, although the 20127 counts  tends to be higher the pattern of variation over the month is remarkably similar, the difference in count possible being due to there being in more debris in the comet paths crossed indicative of the random nature by whbich comets lose material./ dust in their orbits

October sees the peak of the Orionid shower on the 21st, coinciding with a bright waxing, nearly full moon, the Southern Taurid shower peaks under more favourable conditions( 1 day old waxing crescent) on the 10th.

New base for mobile radio meteor scatter operations

Last time I bought my mobile meatiest scatter radio equipment to an outreach event at Rosliston forestry Centre, children were dipping and diving around pegs and ropes holding the ex-military Klansman aerial up. This was identified as a health and safety risk. I have just received the item below – recommended by Ed – it is a wonderfully well-designed piece of kit sold as a mobile stand for garden parasols – it locks both up and down using a spring-loaded mechanism and a metal bit which fits into a slot at the top or the bottom so that it is very solidly held in place in either the open or closed position. It is quite robust be made of solid metal construction, and its ability to fold up makes it easy to transport – bank said for a brilliant idea!


My Clansman radio mast that I am hoping to erect using this base:

Message from George – Greek astronomer from Skopelos

Hi Folks

I had a reply from George Mihail that I met in greece. It’s worth having a look at his website. Very interesting setup, a great view. The last photo is the latest live feed from his webcam at 1711 15th september. If you read further down, the english translation of my message is at the bottom



Dear friend
We manage to communicate and to take pictures of every activity of the stargate we have a very interesting winter here in Skopelos.Thanks with the best wishesGeorge Michail

——-Original Message——-


Date: 12/9/2018 9:18:21 μμ


Subject: Αστρονομία στη Σκόπελο (Astronomy in Skopelos)

Γεια Σας  Γεώργιος , το όνομά μου είναι Ed, σας μίλησα στη Σκόπελο πριν από λίγες εβδομάδες στο φεστιβάλ. Είμαι ο αστρονόμος από την Αγγλία.

Μου άρεσε να μιλάω μαζί σας και με ενδιέφερε πολύ να μάθω ότι έχετε ένα παρατηρητήριο στο νησί. Θα ήθελα να έρθω και να το δω την επόμενη φορά που θα είμαι εκε

Είμαι μέλος της Ομάδας Αστρονομίας Rosliston που συναντάει κοντά στο Burton on Trent στην Αγγλία (

Αν κοιτάξετε την Αρχική σελίδα, εγώ είμαι στην πρώτη φωτογραφία (μπλε παλτό) και την 5η φωτογραφία (λευκό πουλόβερ). Μάλλον θα με αναγνωρίσεις από αυτό

Έχω επισυνάψει ορισμένες φωτογραφίες που πήρα. Ήταν τόσο ωραίο να βλέπετε κάποιον άλλον να κάνει δημόσια εκδηλώσεις προβολής. Κάνουμε αρκετά στο κλαμπ μας

Είπα σε άλλα μέλη για το γεγονός της Σκοπέλου και ήταν πολύ ζηλιάρης για το πόσο καθαρός ήταν ο ουρανός

Θα ήταν καλό να μοιράζεστε μαζί σας πληροφορίες και φωτογραφίες, αν θέλετε, και αν έρχεστε ποτέ στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, θα ήσαστε πολύ ευπρόσδεκτοι να έρθετε στις συναντήσεις του συλλόγου μας

Θα σας δούμε το επόμενο έτος το 2019


My Greek is not very good so I have written it again in English just in case

Hi George, My name is Ed, I spoke to you in Skopelos a few weeks ago at the festival. I am the astronomer from England

It was great talking to you and I was very interested to know you have an observatory on the island. I woiuld like to come and see it next time I’m there

I’m a member of the Rosliston Astronomy Group that meets near Burton on Trent in the UK   (

If you look at the Home page, that’s me in the 1st  photo (blue coat) and the 5th photo (white jumper). You’ll probably recognise me from that

I have attached some photos that I took . It was so nice to see someone else doing public outreach events. We do quite a few in our club

I told the other members about the Skopelos event and they were very jealous of how clear the sky was

It would be good to share information and pictures with you if you’d like, and if you ever come to the UK, you’d be very welcome to come to our club meetings

Bye for now


August Meteors

Although not visually very active (clouds again!!) the Perseids were very prominent in the  radar data. In my post mid august the data showed a maximum daily rate of 313 on the 13th with a maximum hourly rate of 28 between 2-3am on 12th, and as the hourly plot showed the main activity was between 2 – 8 am hence missed by lots of people even if clear, Ed and Dave at Solarfest went to bed too early!!

The meteor count total for the month was 2999, with an average daily count of 97 and average hourly rate of 4.

The hourly and daily plots are below and for comparison below these  the August  daily count for the last 3 years, interestingly the shower peaked on the 13th in 2018, 2017 but on 12th in 2016, this however is only the daily count and a different set of conditional actions for recording events is now in use.

The final chart is a reposting of the 2018 shower data.

Perseid Shower 2018

The Perseids have been and gone, maximum hourly count was 28 between 2-3 pm on the 12th and the max daily count was 313 on the 13th. The hourly plot between 10th and 16th shows the daily shower distribution quite clearly, maximum activity picking up for 2pm onwards on most days , hence not many being seen, also the majority of counts were of low duration, so most not very bright, there were some longer duration signals associated with fireballs but not many and certainly not bright enough to trigger the all sky camera which I had running when sky was clear.( which wasn’t very often)