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Fireball Detection

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Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 09:41:17 -0800

Fireball Network help!

West Coast Sandia Bolide Detection Network

I am the un-official coordinator of the West Coast Sandia Bolide Detection Network on Vancouver Island and northern Washington State. This responsibility was passed on to me by Dr. Jeremy Tatum of the University of Victoria after his retirement. I am the station operator of a Courtenay all-sky camera, with others located in the Nanaimo area, Victoria, and northern Washington. We attempt to record bright fireballs over our area with the hope that a possible fall zone can be arrived at by triangulation.

Dr. Tatum also set up a volunteer network of trained interviewers to supplement the all-sky network in order to help pin down a fireball. With time passing, some of these volunteers have either moved or lost interest, so we are looking for more "volunteers" located across the Province to join this group. We are looking for people that are "experienced" using a compass to take bearings, familiar with topographical maps or have GPS's for site location, and some sort of device to measure the height of a fireball above the horizon. A clinometer is good, but an inexpensive builders level used to measure roof slopes will work. When a fireball occurs over your area, the interviewer is expected to go to the location that the fireball was observed from and take the necessary measurements from the observer of the event.

We need: the compass direction the fireball was first observed from, corrected to true north bearing, the elevation above the horizon, the compass direction the fireball was last observed from, corrected to true north bearing, the elevation above the horizon, the slope of the path if it can be measured, whether the fireball was moving from "left-to-right" or "right-to-left". Jeremy has pointed out that bearing reports should include "magnetic" and "corrected" headings as sometimes errors are made in the conversion to "true-north" heading.

The date and time, name of the witness, and contact information. email is best, as we don't have a budget for phone calls. Other information such as hearing a delayed sonic boom (with time delay noted if possible) simultaneous sound if heard, fragmentation, or other interesting comments that might be helpful. Don't coach the observer of the event, let him/her tell their own story of what was observed.

This is strictly a "volunteer" effort with no funding, and you are expected to provide your own equipment (compass, maps, elevation measuring device etc). Your satisfaction will be gained from the fact that you have helped plot a path of a fireball and with any luck, help locating a meteorite. If a report is written, your cooperation will be mentioned. One thing I should mention, I'm an amateur astronomer volunteer, associated with MIAC. Volunteers will not be swamped with work, as major fireball events over a particular area are not that frequent, perhaps one or two per year.

If anyone on the RASCALS list or others you know of are interested in doing this please let me know.

Ed Majden  epmajden@SHAW.CA
EMO Sandia Bolide Detection Station
Courtenay, B.C.


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Last updated: December 12, 2013

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