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Press release

Radio Meteor Zoo: help us detect the Perseids!

August 8, 2016 The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) invites everyone to help scientists monitor the Perseid meteor shower by way of the “Radio Meteor Zoo”project.

The website provides all the necessary information about meteors and their detection by the Belgian BRAMS network. Everyone who is interested can participate in the observation and count of the Perseids, a meteor shower originating from the comet Swift-Tuttle, starting from August 12, 2016.


Meteor Shower
Image Credit & Copyright: Darryl Van Gaal


A comet is often presented as a dirty snowball containing a large number of dust particles. When it comes close to the sun, the snowball is heated up and releases a part of those dust particles in its wake. Every time the earth (on its orbit around the sun) passes through such a cloud of dust particles, these particles enter our atmosphere and heat up. They evaporate at an altitude of 90-100 km, thereby producing the flash of light that we call a meteor, a.k.a. “a shooting star”.


Earth passes through trail of comet particles


As it is not one but a whole cloud of dust particle(s) that enters the atmosphere and evaporates, the term ‘meteor shower’ is preferred. In this way, the Earth meets dust particles originating from the comet Swift-Tuttle every year in mid-August. These particles are the source of the Perseid meteor shower. 

Those meteors can be perceived by the naked eye, but they can also be detected by radio techniques. The latter have the advantage that they can be used at night and in cloudy weather. This is why the BIRA-IASB has been performing this kind of observations already for a few years now, using the BRAMS network that consists of a transmitter and some 30 receivers scattered all over Belgium. In this way, thousands of meteors are detected every day.


BRAMS network Belgium


The results that scientists obtain through the processing of the data provided by the network are used, for instance, to map the activity of meteor showers, to detect peaks in this activity, to compare them with predictions made by other scientists, …


BRAMS network Belgium


By aid of the BRAMS network, scientists are able to automatically detect meteors, but the human eye remains the best Perseid detector. That is why the BIRA-IASB has developed this website where everyone can identify meteors in just a few clicks. So, your contribution to this project will be of great value!

Help us identify meteors in radio data - Get Started




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