NASA Releases Shooting Star Counting Application

CometNASA has developed a meteor counting program for the Palm OS, just in time for the upcoming Leonid Meteor shower. NASA researchers developed the software so the space agency’s own scientists could make more accurate tallies of meteors during the 2001 version of the annual Leonid storm.

"We wanted something more sophisticated than putting marks on a piece of paper," said Rob Suggs at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) . Suggs and colleague Bill Cooke conceived the program. Suggs said tests last year went well. "The software worked famously." reports, this year, 14 MSFC researchers will fan out around the globe counting shooting stars by tapping their handheld computers in addition to recording video data. The device knows the time. Users input location and an estimate of a thing called limiting magnitude, which involves how bright or dim the stars (and meteors) are that can be seen by the observer at the given time and location.

The software then automatically sorts the subsequent tallies into 15-minute bins and calculates a series of hourly rates for these 15-minute periods, as is the custom among serious meteor observers. The program goes further, however, and figures out what would have been observed if sky conditions had been perfect.

The Meteor Counting and Observation Program is available for download as a compressed ZIP file here. For more info on the Leonid meteor shower see this.

Thanks to Justin Case for the tip!

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kozmos @ 11/14/2002 12:49:24 PM #
Thanks, I'm gonna download it right away, can't wait for the leonids anyway :)
hkklife @ 11/14/2002 1:26:28 PM #
Hmmmm any idea if it's OS5 compliant...I'd download it now but I left my T|T at home today ;-(
Admin @ 11/14/2002 1:52:30 PM #
Yes, it runs on a Tungsten T just fine. You will want to read the instructions as the app is not very self-explanatory.

E-mailing observations

Odyssey41 @ 11/14/2002 12:58:28 PM #
Where should I e-mail my observations? It doesn't say...

Just being picky...

rickyspears @ 11/14/2002 2:47:20 PM #
Ryan: The related image is of a comet, not a meteor. :o)

I didn't see any way for the Sony Trolls to put a spin on this so I figured I would find another angle to troll with.

Sounds like a great tool. Hopefully I'll get to use it. I haven't done scientific meteor watching in some time.

Give me some space!

RE: Just being picky...
HandAble @ 11/14/2002 3:02:34 PM #
RE: Just being picky...
HandAble @ 11/14/2002 3:03:50 PM #
And a good picture from Astronomy Picture of the Day:

RE: Just being picky...
volcanopele @ 11/14/2002 3:49:50 PM #
Ah but meteors come from comets so technically the comet image isn't to far off.

RE: Just being picky...
rickyspears @ 11/14/2002 5:55:58 PM #
volcanopele: touche!
RE: Just being picky...
justauser @ 11/14/2002 6:29:26 PM #
Not wishing to rub your nose in it in any way ... Quoting from the above link - "The particles from comet Tempel-Tuttle radiate from the constellation Leo and are therefore called the Leonids" The major significance of this particular show is that we are passing through a comet's tail so the image is entirely appropriate.
Download doesn't work
Handy @ 11/15/2002 6:36:21 AM #

where can I get this Tool. The download doesn't work for me


RE: Just being picky...
dhchung @ 11/15/2002 12:00:19 PM #
yes, the link is broken.

RE: Link is Fixed
Admin @ 11/15/2002 12:34:59 PM #
NASA must have changed the URL overnight, I updated it with the correct one. If you'll be stargazing, check this out:

MCOP with Zire

pocketscience @ 11/17/2002 4:20:05 PM #
Hmm, too bad if you have a Zire I guess. You can't do the count as the software requires you to tap either the Todo or Notepad buttons...


RE: MCOP with Zire
Ricky @ 11/17/2002 9:25:33 PM #
Doesn't matter- you wouldn't be able to see what you're doing anyways, without a backlight.



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