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Triangulation and Orbit Determination

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Ian Williams

Tamworth, Staffordshire, England

Camera / Lens Combination:

Watec 902H / Computar 6mm f1.2, Az 060.0, Ev 50.




After a long break from astronomy Ian renewed his interest in 2001. Having attended a BAA meeting at the National Space Centre he was immediately inspired by one of the talks on space weather and the Sun's effects on our planet. Ian built several magnetometers in the hope of predicting aurora, quite rare at 52° latitude, but the data collected was still of interest. Ian's interest in radio and electronics led him to monitoring SIDs (Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances). Simple equipment can be built to monitor the Sun’s activity in relation to X-Ray flares & coronal mass ejections using very low frequency military radio transmission signals in Europe. Ian then discovered similar VHF signals could also be used to detect meteors. The ionised trail of a meteor as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere has reflective properties in the radio spectrum and can be captured from a communications receiver with software such as SpecLab. Ian's interest turned then to the possibility of capturing meteor events visually and installed the two camera system at the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Sidmouth last year. Ian is a member of their S.P.A.M. Network and was very impressed with the performance of the SonotaCo software - he knew it wouldn’t be long before he too would be running such a system!

Alas he was unable to position his cameras toward the NLO as the rear of his house faces north and his southern skies suffer from sodium light pollution from the Tamworth sky-line. Following a discussion with Jeremy Shears, Ian decided join NEMETODE. Ian is currently using a Watec 902H with a 6mm f1.2 Computar lens aligned on an azimuth of 60° and an elevation of 50°. As soon as the performance of this first camera has been optimised, Ian plans to deploy a a second Watec camera will initially experiment with a 1⁄2" 4.5-10mm vari-focal lens.

Ian currently runs an electronic security installation company, so camera installation is second nature. He is a member of the Heart of England AS (HOEAS) and the BAA Radio Astronomy Group (BAARAG).