(meteorobs) Re: My High rates.

Mike Linnolt said :

>...  there is another unaccounted-for variable,
>besides LM alone, that determines meteor detection rate. 

He is right.  Two factors govern meteor rates : skies and eyes.  Some people
see more meteors than others ; in some cases, dramatically more.  I note
that individual perception not only varies on an overall basis, but also on
a magnitude basis. 

 Most of the high-perception observers excel on brighter meteors over a wide
field of view so they see much higher rates on the brighter showers than I
do.  The same people fare much less well on the faintest showers, such as
the Orionids and Delta Aquarids.  In the latter cases  I can actually keep
up with them on rates.  Bob Lunsford is the best example of this.

Less common are high perceptions that are best on faint meteors.  Marco is
an excellent current example.  In the past Bill Gates (not from Microsoft)
was the same way.  Bill was seeing only twice my bright meteors, but ten
times my faint meteors -- he netted out at 3.8X my rates.  Being so
bottom-heavy on magnitudes, his sporadic rates were routinely 30-50/hr
almost all year. 

A subset of the  "eyes"  category is  "hour of the night."  Most observers
will be better at some particular hour.  In a five-hour watch Gates was best
during the third hour (perception 5.0X) and worst the first hour (2.8X.)  In
a 1973 group study my perception was almost level during long watches.  Each
of the others had distinct good and bad hours.

Visual acuity seems to be much less of a factor than ability to detect
fleeting objects.  Despite being able to see faint stars with ease, my
meteor rates are just average (relative to the general population.)  I am
below average among active meteor observers, but people that see more will
sustain their interest longer so that is no surprise.  My first observing
partner saw only half my rates, and he was through with meteors after high

I see a fair number of faint meteors in dark skies but quite often there are
long blank periods.  A dark sky is no guarantee that you will see a lot of
meteors, unless you are at least partially like Gates.  Starwise I resolve
all of the bright open clusters naked-eye.  Most people see just hazy
patches.  Even the Double Cluster is visible as two cleanly separated
clusters with some individual stars in each.  Uncorrected I am about 20/100
but with glasses I correct to  20/8 by my reckoning.  The 20/10 line on an
eye chart is the only one to be a bit challenging but I can still read it
without error.  Large lenses for glasses are readily available these days so
frames blocking meteors shouldn't be a problem.


Norman W. McLeod III
Staff Advisor
American Meteor Society

Fort Myers, Florida

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