Fourth UKMON Collaboration Meeting, Cardiff

Members of UKMON gathered at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff on 20th October 2018 for its fourth collaboration meeting. UKMON brings together amateur and professional astronomers from around the country who share a common interest in meteor science. This annual get-together allows members to get to know each other and to share knowledge and experience. It is a great social opportunity too.

National Museum Cardiff from distance

The meeting followed last year’s winning formula of a quick-paced and wide-ranging agenda, also keeping UKMON business to a minimum. The agenda allowed plenty of time for attendees to ask questions and for wider discussion of the presentation topics.

What is clear from this year’s meeting is how the different projects within the international community of meteor scientists are each working towards an eventual meteor recovery. Our objectives (and data) overlap and the potential for collaboration is huge.

After introductions the morning programme opened with an introduction to our hosts (Cardiff Astronomical Society) given by Edward Cooper.

The business of the day was as follows: Richard Kacerek gave an update on the status of the UKMON camera network.Richard reminded us that growth of the network was not a stated objective for 2018 but nevertheless the number of cameras contributing data grew my more than 50%. Richard also made a very exciting announcement, the intent to establish a schools network within UMON.

Jim Rowe gave an update on the growing Fripon / Scamp network, SCAMP being the UK spin-off of the French FRIPON network and part of an international effort to recover meteorites. Things have moved on considerably since Jim introduced SCAMP at our 2017 meeting. Cameras in Honiton and East Barnet are now connected directly to FRIPON, a camera in Manchester is installed and is being connected to FRIPON this month, and systems have been delivered to the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and will be installed this month. Jim also announced that two more cameras ready to go.

Luke Daily (University of Glasgow) presented an update on the UK fireball network which already has four cameras in place. The project is awaiting further cameras which are being built to a new design. Cameras are planned for Scotland and Wales and will be installed just as soon as they are available. Sarah McMullan (University of Glasgow) then shared with us the research she is undertaking on the energy deposited in the atmosphere by meteor events.

Luke Daily and Sarah McMullan

Peter Campbell-Burns (UKMON) completed the morning programme with a presentation of his dark flight model. Luke’s team have also been working on dark-flight, and it was suggested that Peter Luke’s team with his results of the 24-25/11/2017 fireball so that these results can be compared.

Drag coefficient when calculating Dark-flight of a meteor

Jana Horak, Head of Mineralogy and Petrology at the National Museum Wales opened the afternoon programme. Dr Horak gave us an excellent introduction to meteorites and Impactites and brought with her an interesting selection of meteorites from the museum’s collection. Also on display was a “discovery pack” containing meteorite samples and information which the museum loaned to schools and educational establishments.

Dr Martin Fullekrug (University of Bath) and Simon Ghilain presented on lightning and sprites. UKMON has been sharing its sprite captures with the University but were rather delighted to learn that a series of sprites recorded on one night by Richard Fleet (Wilcot) warranted special interest.

Peter Campbell-Burns (UKMON) took the last two sessions to present the data analysis and data visualisation projects he has been working on over the last year. In the first of these Peter led a discussion on the IAU working list. He presented a novel approach to data analysis automation which could be used to support submission to and verification of the list. Peter then gave an update on UKMON visualisation tools including KML plots of individual meteors and meteor showers and a Python-based tool to generate print quality 3D interactive plots of orbits.

Throughout the day there were many touch-points where member’s interests were piqued and it was evident that stronger links were forged between members. Drinks in a nearby bar afterwards enabled common interests and individual projects to be explored further.

Socialising over a pint

After the meeting, many attendees retired to the “Wig and Pen” for refreshment. Discussions on meteor topics, life, the universe and everything continued until well after ten pm.

UKMON team at the table

UKMON would like to thank Dr Jana Horak, the National Museum Wales and Cardiff Astronomical Society for their support and all attendees some of whom made long journeys to be part of this event. Once again the UKMON collaboration meeting has given the team a lot to digest and many ideas to explore.