Mike's Astro Photos
Oct.19 2009

York Water Calibrated Stellar Photo

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

york-water-calibrated-summary-simple-smIn an effort refine or confirm the current meteor trajectory I have been doing a lot of work to improve the altitude and azimuth readings from the collected videos. A couple of meteor experts suggested taking calibrated stellar photos of the direct video sightings. A calibrated stellar photo is a picture or video that contains visible stars or celestial objects taken with the same camera in the same location. The frames from the meteor video can then be layered over the calibrated photo and precise azimuth and altitude readings can be determined. Using known reference points in the calibrated photo you can get reference points to the unknown object in the original photo.

I contacted the York Water Company and asked if we could shoot some video from the fish eye camera that recorded the meteor on July 6th. Based on the distortion and power of the camera I thought grabbing stars was going to be hard. A friend of mine was checking the star charts and let me know that the full moon would be rising in the east on October 4th and October 5th. York’s camera faces east and I agreed this would be our best chance for calibrating the photo. By recording the moon rising on two different nights we would be able to obtain dozens of reference points throughout the night. The videos turned out perfectly and I have been able to do exactly what I wanted.

york-moon-star-map-smThere are a total of nine frames from the original meteor video. I was able to layer these frames over the moon pictures and in three cases I got perfect matches. The meteor is exactly in the same position as the moon at different points of time. The rest of the frames partially overlay or come very close to moon pictures. I have been able to get a much more precise reading of the altitude and azimuth from the York video using this new calibrated photo. When I trace the meteor path to the horizon in the star maps I come up with a 67 degree angle. If I draw a line NE at 67 degrees in Google Earth from the York Water pumping station it intersects with Rob Matson’s 0km impact point almost perfectly (Rob’s point is actually 67.5 degrees NE from York Water). It is my understanding Rob did not use the York Water video in his original 3D model projection because we could not get a precise enough ALT-AZ reading from the camera due to the distortion caused by the fisheye lens. I interpret the analysis from this calibrated video as a confirmation of what Rob has already predicted. I find it pretty amazing how close this new angle comes to Rob’s original projection considering Rob only used the Pittsburgh video and my astro photo as input for his calculations.

York Water Trajectory Map

York Water Trajectory Map


2 Comments for this entry

  • Mark

    Wow. That is totally awesome. Having the moon line up for you just like that is completely out of this world. Among meteorite hunting, this effort of yours is nothing if not legendary. But don’t get discouraged: if finding this space rock were all too easy, you wouldn’t be learning so much about how the wheels in the sky go round and round.

  • Mike Hankey


    This required some hard work to get done, but it was fun and I learned a lot by doing it. Thanks for your tip about the moon on Oct 4th and 5th. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without that info.

    The other funny thing about that night…. Aries was rising right above the moon, like it was watching over the moon. Why is this interesting? I’m an Aries (spooky xfiles sound here). Another interesting thing, the trajectory line intersects the star Aldebaran at the horizon. Aldebaran is called ‘The Bulls Eye’ (more spooky music)

    The conclusion I get from this is Rob Matson’s prediction is on the mark. I just have to look harder.

    If you can make any sense, improvements or observations out of the calibrated photo, star maps or ground track please lmk.



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