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Triangulation and Orbit Determination

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Jim Rowe

East Barnet, North London, England

Camera / Lens Combination:

Watec 902H2 Ultimate / Tamron_GL412IRDD (with C-CS Adaptor), Az 299.8, Ev 35.1

Watec 902H2 Ultimate / Computar HG3Z4512FCS-IR, Az 029.8, Ev 33.3

Basler Ace 1300-gm30 / Focusafe FS12520FEMP (1.25mm f2)


I set up my cameras in East Barnet, North London in 2016 though have been interested in meteors and meteorites since being able to see and touch a huge chunk of the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite in the Canterbury museum in my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand.  As a teenager around 1980 I wrote to the curators of all the major meteorite collections in the world for information and one, Professor Brian Mason of the Smithsonian Institution, nominated me for membership of The Meteoritical Society.  For a while I was the only New Zealand-based member, but I really struggled with the long articles on cosmochemistry in the Proceedings so my membership didn’t last too long.  I found out many years later that Brian Mason had studied in Christchurch and must have been tickled to get a letter from a kid in his home town. 

Again around 1980 I was inspired by the work of the American collector, Harvey H. Nininger, who in the 1930s would collect fireball reports and then, using strings, sticks and a map, would narrow down the fall zone to an area about five miles by ten.  He’d then knock on doors and address local meetings until he found pieces of the meteorite.  Eighty years later, we’re fortunate to have better tools than sticks and string.

I’m now a keen participant in the NEMETODE and UKMON networks with two Watec cameras running "UFO Capture" Software and also have the first UK based camera designed for the French FRIPON network running FRIPON's "FreeTure" capture software.  A great result will be when these camera networks directly lead to the recovery of a meteorite in the British Isles. Once a few are found, the pre-impact orbits calculated from our cameras can be correlated with the composition and characteristics of the recovered objects and then we'll have some really interesting results - I look forward to being part of the journey!