(meteorobs) NAMN Notes: June 2001

NAMN Notes: June 2001


NAMN Notes is a monthly newsletter produced by the North American Meteor
Network, and is available both via email, and on the NAMN website at:
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs


1. June Bootids from Comet Pons-Winnecke...
2. Other Showers Visible in June...
3. Fireball Reporting...
4. Visdat - The Meteor Report Program, Part 1...
5. Recent Observations, May 2001...
6. RASC Awards to Brown and Boschat...
7. Upcoming Meetings...
8. For more info...

1. June Bootids from Comet Pons-Winnecke...

The June Bootids (JBO) reach a maximum on June 27th at 07h UT, but can be
seen from about June 26th to July 2nd. UT refers to Universal Time, the
time in Greenwich, England - so note your local time accordingly. At
maximum on the 27th, the radiant will be at 224 degrees, ie. RA 14h 55.8m,
Dec +48, which is about 8 degrees north of the star beta Bootes, the star
known as Nekkar.

These are very slow meteors, with a velocity of about 18 km/sec, as listed
on the International Meteor Organization (IMO) website at
http://www.imodot net/calendar/cal01.html under "Table 5 - Working List of
Visual Meteor Showers". Because they are so slow, they will be very
distinctive - and much easier to pick up using your camera as well! The
website also has a more detailed map of the radiant, the area in the sky
where the meteors will seem to come from. Check it out at
http://www.imodot net/calendar/cal01.html#June-Bootids.

Rates for this shower are variable. According to the IMO, only 3 definite
returns of this shower prior to 1998 were detected - in 1916, 1921 and
1927. In 1998, there was an unexpected display of the June Bootids, and
ZHR rates reached from 50 to over 100 meteors per hour visible for over
half a day. ZHR refers to the Zenithal Hourly Rate, the number of meteors
an observer would see from a dark country sky, with the unaided eye, if the
radiant was directly overhead.

The parent body of this meteor stream is the Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke, which
reached perihelion in January 1996 and is next due in May
2002. Perihelion comes from the Greek "peri" meaning about or around, and
"helios" meaning sun. Perihelion means the closest approach to the sun.

This comet was discovered from Marseilles, France on June 12, 1819 by Jean
Louis Pons, one of history's most famous comet hunters. It was about
magnitude 8 at the time, and later brightened to between magnitude 5 and
6. Due to some problems with the orbit calculation, Comet Pons was
considered lost, and was not seen at later returns.

It was accidentally rediscovered on March 9, 1858 by F.A. Winnecke of Bonn,
Germany who found a comet that was later recognized as the same one. It
is interesting that with so many years difference between these events,
both observers' names were used for the comet.

More information on this comet is given in Gary Kronk's book "Comets - A
Descriptive Catalog":

"Since before its discovery, the comet has been locked into a 2:1 resonance
with Jupiter, which has brought about a close encounter with that planet
every 12 years. These close approaches were, at first, bringing the comet
into a more favorable position for observations, and in 1921, 1927 and
1939... the comet passed Earth at distances of only 0.14 AU, 0.04 AU and
0.11 AU respectively... After 1939, however, the perihelion distance and
period continued to increase and the result was that the comet has not been
brighter than magnitude 11.5."

Observations of the meteor shower associated with Comet Pons-Winnecke are
encouraged! Because of possible - but unpredictable - future outbursts,
all observations are important. This includes not only the date of maximum
possible activity, but the days leading up to that date and the days after
that date - or in other words, all nights you can manage from June 26th to
July 2nd.

2. Other Showers Visible in June...

June is a fairly quiet month for nighttime meteor showers - although there
is a lot of activity in the daytime sky visible only to those doing radio
meteor observation. If you are curious about seeing meteors by radio,
check out more information on the IMO website at www.imodot net.

In the nighttime sky, the Sagittarids (SAG) continue to represent the
ecliptic activity whose radiant moves along the path of the ecliptic in the
sky, or along the constellations of the zodiac as they are better known to
many people.

These have a velocity of about 30 km per second, so they are almost slow
meteors. The ZHR rate for this activity is about 5 meteors per hour. On
June 10th, the radiant will be at 265 degrees, ie RA 17h 39.6m, Dec -23,
which is about 10 degrees down to the left of the star eta Ophiuchus, the
star called Sabik, the bottom left star in Ophiuchus. On June 25th, closer
to the time of the June Bootids, the radiant will be at 280 degrees, ie. RA
18h 39.6m, Dec -23, which is about 5 degrees up to the right of the star
sigma Sagittarius, the star called Nunki - the bright star in the handle of
the "Teapot".

If you would like some maps of the sky to navigate around a bit easier,
print yourself off a set of 4 from our website at
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs/charts.html. These give constellations,
grid coordinates, and tell you the magnitude or brightness of stars to
use in judging how bright the meteors are that you see!

Don't forget that - regardless of what meteor showers are visible - there
is always sporadic meteor activity. These are meteors which are random or
belong to long ago, untraceable meteor showers. Every hour, on average you
will see about 7 of these meteors anywhere in the sky.

For more information on what to record when you watch meteors, check out
our NAMN Observing Guide at: http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs/guide.html.
If you have any questions, drop a note to the NAMN Coordinator, Mark Davis
MeteorObs@charlestondot net.

Are there other showers visible in the June nighttime sky? There are
always very minor showers, but these are not on the IMO "Working List of
Visual Meteor Showers" as they are not showers with activity high enough to
make visual observations easy. They have extremely low rates, perhaps only
1 or 2 visible over many hours, and can be detected only by careful
plotting by experienced observers. If you want to learn how to plot
meteors, and help in the detection of these obscure radiants - and possible
new showers too - check out the IMO site at www.imodot net under Visual Meteor

Full moon this month is on June 6th, last quarter on June 14th, new moon on
June 21st, and first quarter on June 28th. Mars is up all month in
Ophiuchus at about magnitude -2.3 for most of the month. Venus is the
very bright pre-dawn object low in the east, at magnitude -4.3 at mid-month.

3. Fireball Reporting...

Often a report is submitted to us in which the observer gives a brief
description of a bright meteor they have seen or heard about. If this
meteor is bright enough, it is known as a fireball. As a rough guide, if
you see a meteor that is about as bright as the planet Venus, you've got
yourself a fireball. But these are much more than a pretty face in the
sky... they can provide important information to those who study meteors.

The International Meteor Organization maintains a record of fireballs at
their Fireball Data Center (FIDAC). These records can be used for various
studies such as annual and seasonal rates, as well as providing information
on possible meteorite falls.

The North American Meteor Network assists with this effort by collecting
and forwarding fireball reports to FIDAC. NAMN member Kevin Kilkenny
serves as our Fireball Coordinator and is responsible for collecting,
archiving and forwarding to FIDAC all fireball reports we receive.

Some of the information that is helpful when preparing a report includes:
* Observer(s) name and address
* Date and Time
* Location of Observation (including geographic coordinates if possible)
* Magnitude or brightness of the fireball
* Apparent path/coordinates of first and last sighting - this can be done in
right ascension and declination or altitude/azimuth
* Duration in seconds
* Sounds

More detailed information on what to record and how to report it is in
Chapter 6 of the NAMN Guide at
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs/guide.html. Fireball report forms can be
found at the web sites of both the North American Meteor Network and the
International Meteor Organization:
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs and http://www.imodot net
For more information or to send a report in, contact Kevin Kilkenny at

4. Visdat - The Meteor Report Program, Part 1...

Visdat is a DOS-based computer program that you can use to do your meteor
data reports and also enter your plots if you wish. It was written by
Thomas Rattei and Janko Richter, both of the Astroclub Radebeul e.V.
Germany. Basically, you can type in your meteors, and the program will do
the required calculations for you, giving you a finished report ready to
submit in the format used by the International Meteor Organization.

Beginners may wish to just do a manual report, printed off from the NAMN
website, but more frequent observers may want to check out this
program. Being DOS-based, it is quite different from Windows and will
take a bit of getting used to. But it might help you in the long run.
of using your mouse to click around the screen, and Esc to exit sections,
you can also use the Alt key and a letter on your keyboard to change
sections, and your arrow keys to go up, down, left and right. Many
observers will find these methods a small price to pay for a program that
will do all the report calculations for you!

This month, for those who wish to try the program, we will give you
detailed notes on how to install it on your computer. For the
installation, your Canadian co-author used a Pentium III running Windows 98
2nd edition, as most North American users are probably running Win95 or
Win98. We will also be installing Visdat on an older machine with Windows
3.1 though, and will provide that info once it is up and running. Next
month, we will walk you through the data input part of the Visdat program,
with a sample meteor session.

The installation is similar to the instructions on the IMO site, but
adapted for Windows. We will give instructions on how to update any
databases next month - for now, just put the Visdat program on your

Method #1 (if all goes well the first time):

1. Print these instructions and follow them.
2. From your Windows screen, click Start.
3. Click Shut Down.
4. Click Restart in MS-DOS mode, then press OK.
5. At C:\WINDOWS> type "cd\" with no quotes & press Enter.
6. If you want Visdat on your C drive, or if you only have 1 drive,
skip <now> to step number 7.
If you want Visdat on a different drive, such as D drive, then:
at C:\> type "D:" without the quotes, then press Enter, then
do steps 7, 8 and 9 at the "D:\>" prompt
then at D:\> type "C:" without quotes, then press Enter
and go to step 10.
7. At C:\> type "md visprog" with no quotes, then press Enter.
8. At C:\> type "md visdata" with no quotes, then press Enter.
9. At C:\> type "md vistemp" with no quotes, then press Enter.
10. At C:\> type "exit" with no quotes, then press Enter,
and Windows will restart.

11. Back in Windows, log onto the internet.
12. Go to http://www.imodot net/software/visdat/index.html
Arrow down to Distribution, and double click on it.
Double click on Visdat - English Version 4.2 from the ftp site
ie. ftp://ftp.imodot net/pub/software/visdat/english
13. Double click on "install.bat", pick "Save to disk", pick "OK".
If you get a message saying "Running a system command on
this item may be unsafe. Do you want to continue?", say Yes.
If asked this question again for steps 16 & 19, again, say Yes.
14. This will bring up the "Save As" box. Under "Save in" click on
the arrow to pick your drive - pick C if you are using C drive,
or D if you are using D drive. Double click on "Vistemp", which
you have already created back in step 9. The box will then
show "Save in" Vistemp, "File name" install,
and "Save as type" MS-DOS Batch File.
15. Click on "Save" - it will download in about a second.
When it says "Download Complete", click on "Close".
16. Double click on "visdat.lib", pick "Save to disk", pick "OK"
17. The "Save As" box will reappear. As in step 14, "Save in"
Vistemp, but "File name" this time is visdat,
and "Save as type" is .lib Document.
18. Click on "Save" - it will download in 5-15 minutes.
If it is slow, just wait, as it may be a busy time of day.
If it "times out", start step 16 again.
Make sure it makes it to "99%" then,
when it says "Download Complete", click on "Close".
If it didn't make it all the way, start at step 16 again.
19. Double click on "visdat42.eng", pick "Save to disk", pick "OK"
20. The "Save As" box will reappear. As in step 14, "Save in"
Vistemp, but "File name" this time is visdat42,
and "Save as type" is .eng Document.
21. Click on "Save" - it will download in about 5 minutes.
When it says "Download Complete", click on "Close".
22. DO NOT DOWNLOAD anything else.
Exit the internet, and close your internet connection.

23. Double click on "My Computer".
24. Double click on C drive,
or D if that's what you are using for Visdat.
25. Double click on the folder "vistemp".
26. Double click on "install.bat" and it will start to install.

Note: if you get any sort of message at this point, saying that the
installation is aborted due to a problem, DO NOT press Enter to
continue. Click on the "X" in the top right of the installation screen, to
exit immediately. Then skip right now to step 27, Method #2.

If you don't have ANY error messages, keep going on these instructions:
It will ask if you want to continue with installation - press Y. You will
get a screen called VISDAT Preconfiguration, with 5 items in it.

Item 1. The directory where VISDAT program files will be
installed: Single click on that line, then use your backspace key to erase
what is there, and go to the start of the line. If you are using C drive,
type "C:\visprog" without quotes, or if you are using D drive, type
"D:\visprog" without quotes. DO NOT press "Enter" afterwards, read Item 2.

Item 2. The directory where VISDAT will save data: Single click on that
line, then use your backspace key to erase what is there, and go to the
start of the line. If you are using C drive, type "C:\visdata" without
quotes, or if you are using D drive, type "D:\visdata" without
quotes. Press Enter twice to go to the next screen.

Item 3. Do you like to use the graphical tablet GENIUS 1812HR? with
serial port COM1. Press Enter, then with "No" highlighted, press Enter
again. (Don't worry, options can be changed later)

Item 4. What is your printer port? LPT1 is highlighted, press
Enter. LPT1 will be highlighted again, press Enter.

Item 5. Install the demo databases VMHEADXX.DBF and VMDATAXX.DBF
too? "Yes" will be highlighted, press Enter. "Yes" will be highlighted
again, press Enter. "OK" will then be highlighted, press
Enter. Installation will finish in about a second. Click the X at the top
right of the screen to close, then do the same again to close the Vistemp
screen. Visdat is now installed.

Method #2 (to be used only if Method #1 fails or aborts):

27. If you encountered a problem installing (as mentioned in step 26)
do the following:

Go to http://home.t-onlinedot de/home/visdat/english
Double click on "visdt.exe", pick "Save to disk", pick "OK".
This will bring up the "Save As" box.
Under "Save in" click on the arrow to pick your drive - C or D.
Double click on "Vistemp".
The box will then show "Save in" Vistemp, "File name" visdt,
and "Save as type" Application.
Click on "Save" - it will download in 5-15 minutes.
Exit the internet and close your internet connection.
Double click on "My Computer".
Double click on drive you are using - C or D.
Double click on "Vistemp" folder.
Click on "View" at top of screen, pick "Details".
Double click on "visdt - Application" (watch spelling)
and a screen with many files will install.
When it says "Finished - visdt" at the top of the screen,
with no error messages, you are finished.
Close the screen by clicking on the "X" in the top right corner.
Visdat is now installed!

To run Visdat once you have installed it:

1. Close all Windows applications - or going to Visdat (in DOS)
may cause some of them to react unkindly.
2. Double click on "My Computer".
3. Double click on the drive you installed Visdat on - C or D.
4. If you installed using Method #1, double click on Visprog.
If you installed using Method #2, double click on Vistemp.
5. At the top of your screen, click on View, then click on Details.
6. Scroll down through the files to "Visdat - Application"
(watch the spelling - Visdat - NOT visdt).
7. Double click on this, and Visdat will start.
8. For the next and following times, you can double click on the
black icon with the pink "V" called "Shortcut to MS-DOS",
which will appear after you have run Visdat for the first time.

The basics of moving around in the Visdat program:

To get into Visdat from the main Visdat screen, press Enter. To move
around, press Alt and a keyboard letter at the same time, eg. Alt and F at
the same time will take you to the File dropdown menu. To move around now,
use your 4 arrow keys to go up, down, left or right. To get out of a
section, press Esc. To exit Visdat, press Alt and F at the same time, then
arrow down to Exit and press Enter.

However, as the author found out, your mouse will still work as well, to
change sections you are in. To exit an area, either click on something
different - or press the Esc key. To get out of Visdat completely,
however, you still have to go File, then Exit to do it properly.

Exploring how to work with Visdat:

Click through the various menu parts of the program to see what is in
them. Next month we will walk you through a sample observing session, and
how to type in your meteors to get a basic meteor report. The main section
we will be using is "Data Input".

If you want to do a bit more reading on Visdat before then, check out
http://www.imodot net/visual/visdat/index.html. They do have install
instructions on the site, but they are primarily written for users running
DOS computers - which is why we are providing more specific instructions
for North American users, most of whom use Windows on their computers. In
writing up the instructions for Windows users, this Canadian co-author
installed, deleted, and reinstalled the program a number of times to try to
get the instructions as specific as possible. Some interesting problems
were encountered, but we think the instructions above are now fine, after a
number of times of testing, and a little frustration.

Next month we will tell you how to install any updated databases for
observer names, observing sites, new showers, etc. These databases are
already included with the program you just downloaded, but are periodically
updated by the IMO to reflect new information and new observers!

The Visdat meteor program is new to this Canadian co-author, so if readers
have comments or questions on Visdat, please let us know and we will try to
find out more information as we learn ourselves.

Official support and answers to questions can be obtained from Janko
Richter, at richte-j@t-onlinedot de. If you drop him a note, you can also be
put on an email list to be advised of updates and changes to the Visdat

5. Recent Observations, May 2001...

May opened with the promise of only moon-diminished eta Aquarid activity for
observers. These meteors from Halley's Comet were expected to reach maximum
activity on May 5th. Unfortunately, the moon was in the sky at this time. In
addition to these meteors, a handful of Sagittarids, alpha Bootids, alpha
Scorpids, omega Scorpids and tau Herculids were reported along with a lone
beta Corona Australid and a member of the Ophiuchid stream. Observations
received included:

Apr 30/May 1:
Robert Lunsford, USA (Teff=2.92, 4 eta Aquarids, 7 sporadics)

May 1/2:
Jure Atanackov, Slovenia (Teff=2.78, 4 eta Aquarids, 2 Sagittarids, 32
sporadics); Javor Kac, Slovenia (Teff=1.90, 2 eta Aquarids, 11 sporadics)

May 3/4:
Mike Linnolt, USA (Teff=1.00, 6 eta Aquarids, 2 Sagittarids, 5 sporadics);
James Smith, Switzerland (Teff=1.25, 1 sporadic)

May 4/5:
Mike Linnolt, USA (Teff=1.00, 1 beta Corona Australid, 5 eta Aquarids, 6
sporadics); Ian Musgrave, Australia (Teff=1.00, 3 eta Aquarids, 3
Kim Youmans, USA (May 4/5: Teff=0.67, 5 eta Aquarids, 1 sporadic)

May 5/6:
Pierre Martin, Canada (Teff=1.13, 3 eta Aquarids, 2 sporadics)

May 9/10:
Cathy Hall, Canada (Teff=2.02, 2 sporadics); Catrin Reulbach, Switzerland
(Teff=0.50, 2 sporadics); James Smith, Switzerland (Teff=0.50, 2 sporadics)

May 11/12:
Catrin Reulbach, Switzerland (Teff=1.50, 3 alpha Bootids, 3 sporadics);
James Smith, Switzerland (Teff=1.50, 3 alpha Bootids, 1 Ophiuchid, 3

May 12/13:
Catrin Reulbach, Swizerland (Teff=1.00, 7 sporadics); James Smith,
Switzerland (Teff=1.00, 7 sporadics)

May 14/15:
Pierre Martin, Canada (Teff=2.17, 3 Sagittarids, 5 sporadics)

May 20/21:
Pierre Martin, Canada (Teff=2.77, 1 Sagittarid, 21 sporadics)

May 25/26:
Marco Langbroek, Netherlands (Teff=3.17, 2 alpha Scorpids, 5 omega Scorpids,
1 tau Herculid, 36 sporadics); Arnold Tukkers, Netherlands (Teff=3.50, 1
Sagittarid, 1 tau Herculid, 28 sporadics)

May 29/30:
Robert Lunsford, USA (Teff=3.00, 2 Sagittarids, 13 sporadics)

Thanks to Jure Atanackov, Robert Gardner, Cathy Hall, Javor Kac, Mike
Linnolt, Robert Lunsford, Pierre Martin, Ian Musgrave and Kim Youmans for
sending reports in during the month of May.

6. RASC Awards to Brown and Boschat...

We have just found out that several of our well-known meteor observers are
being given special awards this year by the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada (RASC).

Dr. Peter Brown, a well-known professional meteor researcher is being
awarded the 2001 Plaskett Medal jointly by the RASC and CASCA, the
Canadian Astronomical Society. The Plaskett medal was established in
remembrance of Dr. John Stanley Plaskett and his astrophysical research in
Canada. The gold medal is awarded annually to the Ph.D. graduate from a
Canadian university who is judged to have submitted the most outstanding
thesis in astronomy or astrophysics in the preceding two calendar years. Dr.
Brown's thesis was entitled "Evolution of two periodic meteoroid streams:
The Perseids and the Leonids". The award will be presented to Dr. Brown by
Dr. Ian Halliday at the annual RASC conference in London, Ontario, Canada in
late June.

Another of our NAMN members, Michael Boschat of Halifax, Nova Scotia,
Canada, is being presented a special award by the RASC in recognition of
his many years of contribution to Astronomy and to the Society at the local
(Halifax Centre) level. The Chilton Prize is awarded annually to an
amateur astronomer resident in Canada in recognition of a significant
piece of astronomical work carried out or published during the year. The
prize was established in 1977 in remembrance of Ken E. Chilton, an active
member of the Hamilton Centre. Quoting the letter from the RASC National
Secretary, "With all the work that you have done with the SOHO information
and comet discoveries, it is a great achievement to have your fellow
astronomers to commend you in this way." At the time of this writing,
Michael is up to 29 comet discoveries overall!

Congratulations to Peter Brown and Mike Boschat!!

7. Upcoming Meetings...

June 30 - July 5, 2001 - Russia:
The Tunguska 2001 International Conference will be held in Moscow from June
30 to July 1st, followed by a special trip from July 2nd to 5th to visit
the epicenter of the famous Tunguska event of 1908. For information,
contact Andrei Ol'khovatov at olkhov@mail.ru and check out the website info
at http://www.geocities.com/olkhov/conf01.htm.

August 6-10, 2001 - Sweden:
The Meteoroids 2001 conference will be held at the Swedish Institute of
Space Physics in Kiruna, Sweden. Topics covered will include historical
observations and perspectives on meteoroids; dynamics, sources and
spatial distribution; detection and characteristics of meteoroids from
interstellar space; the meteoroid interaction process in the atmosphere;
hypervelocity impact effects on spacecraft; Leonid meteor storms;
optical observations of meteors; and meteor radar work. For
information, contact Asta Pellinen-Wannberg at
asta.pellinen-wannberg@irf.se and check out the website at

September 20-23, 2001 - Slovenia:
IMC 2001, the worldwide meeting for meteor observers of the
International Meteor Organization, will be held this year in the town of
Cerkno, in Slovenia. This is a convention for both amateurs and
professionals. For North Americans not familiar with the map, Slovenia
is on the Adriatic Sea, east of Venice and south of Austria. It is
within driving distance of major European cities. This is a great
opportunity to meet and chat with observers from all over the globe -
and a wonderful excuse to visit Europe as well! Come join us! The
early registration deadline, for reduced registration rates, is July
1st. Details can be found on the IMO website at http://www.imodot net.

8. For more info...

Mark Davis, MeteorObs@charlestondot net
Goose Creek, South Carolina, USA
Coordinator, North American Meteor Network

And check out:
NAMN home page:
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs

Back issues of NAMN Notes can be found on-line at the NAMN website, and
in the meteorobs archives at:
http://www.tiacdot net/users/lewkaren/meteorobs
by selecting 'Browse Archive by Month'

To subscribe to the meteor email list or
To find out information on our weekly chat sessions:
Contact Lew Gramer at:
dedalus@alum.mitdot edu


Here's to 'Clear Skies' for June...

June 2001 NAMN Notes co-written
by Mark Davis and Cathy Hall


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