Dec 5/6 Meteors and One Nice Fireball

Last night was an experimental night. Since the start of my program to monitor meteors in Southern Arizona, I have been using a Supercircuits PC164C camera. This type of camera is usually used for video surveillance (i.e. watching parking lots at night, etc.) but it’s ability to detect work in low-light levels makes it good for astronomy.

Recently I purchased the latest version of this line of cameras, the Supercircuits PC164CEX-2. The manufacturers claim that it can detect objects 3 times as faint. One downside to the camera (with regards to meteor use) is that it has a higher resolution meaning smaller pixels. Since meteors are usually moving fast, smaller pixels result in the meteors spending less time on each pixel (called dwell time). Less time on each pixels means the meteor will appear fainter resulting in less meteors being detected.

So the verdict? Unfortunately, I’m not sure. On previous nights the PC164C was seeing 20-29 meteors per night. Last night the PC164CEX-2 caught 31 meteors. Since the camera wasn’t operating for the 1st ~5 hours of the night, it probably missed a few meteors. We’ll need to see how the numbers are on future nights.

The brightest meteor of the night (and perhaps ever detected by my camera) was a -5 fireball that appeared over Tucson at 2:51 am. Note, that compared to meteor videos from the older camera, the PC164CEX-2 produced video is much grainier.


TUS  2008-12-06  07h 21m  33  25  2   3   0   0   1
SDG  2008-12-06  11h 38m  86  62  6   8   1   3   6

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
MON – December Monocerotids
PHO – December Phoenicids
PUP – Puppids/Velids Complex
HYD – SIgma (σ-) Hydrids