THE METEOR LOG
Some meteor watchers go on to pursue serious meteor observing. Should you decide to do this, your observations could contribute important information about the meteoroids in a particular stream.
A log of each night's observations should note the following general details:
- the observing session's date, start and stop time. and time-out for breaks;
- the longitude and latitude of your observing site;
- sky conditions;
- the limiting naked-eye magnitude (the magnitude of the faintest star visible to your eye); and
- the direction of the area of sky you are observing, or, better yet, the right ascension and declination of tlie center of your viewing area.
Your observation records should include the number ot meteors that you see per hour, and the magnitude and direction of each meteor. You can estimate magnitudes by comparing the meteor's brightness with that of the adjacent stars. To plot the direction a meteor takes, mark a track line on a star map showing where the meteor appeared and disappeared.
In addition, describe each meteor, noting its duration and the presence of smoke trains or fragmentation. If possible, include an estimate ot the meteor's speed. Tlie standard way to do this is to estimate how far it would have traveled had it persisted tor one second (most meteors last a traction of a second). For example, if a meteor traveled 6 degrees in about half a second, its speed would be noted as 12 degrees per second.
This can be a daunting amount of detail to write down, especially when the meteors are frecn.ient, so some observers use a tape recorder during the session and transcribe the information later.
If you are interested in contributing to meteor astronomy, you can approach the International Meteor Organization for additional information. Contact details are provided in the Resources Directory.