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Space Science

Listen To The Leonids 21

Earendi1 writes "Space.com has an article indicating that it's possible to "listen" to the Leonid meteor shower on radio and television. Basically, it explains that meteors can cause reception of weak, distant radio stations in the FM band and TV stations between channels 2 & 6."
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Listen To The Leonids

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  • HSMS (Score:4, Informative)

    by MaggieL ( 10193 ) on Friday November 15, 2002 @07:22PM (#4681709)
    Quite true. Radio amateurs experiment with sending messages by this method; it's called "meteor scatter". See:




    73 de Maggie K3XS
  • meteors can cause reception of weak, distant radio stations

    The leonids are going to help me pick up CBC!?!?! :)

  • Seriously... I have been getting a local college radio station on my TV when I try to watch simpsons reruns at 5:00 - 6:00 pm (CST). Fox is channel 6, here. I wonder if it is (was) related?
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adolf ( 21054 )

      According to this chart [gofilters.com], channel 6's FM audio resides at 87.75MHz.

      College/non-profit radio station FM frequency allocations start at 88.1MHz.

      Meteor scatter manifests as the ability to recieve distant, over-the-horizon broadcasts which are normally inaccessible, not as the ability to recieve local stations at a different frequency than perhaps you should.

      What you are experiencing is just one FM broadcaster stomping on another's frequency, and the tuner being unable to sort them out. You've heard this before: When driving in the car trying listen to 103.7, but getting bleed from the adjacent stations at 103.5 and 103.9.

      A Rotel tuner that I have will tune down to 87.5MHz. I used to get a kick out of listening to channel 6's audio with the stereo.

  • Listening in (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Friday November 15, 2002 @08:20PM (#4682178) Homepage
    When I was an active pilot flying in or near thunderstorms, I used to tune the ADB receiver (a low radio frequency directional device, bracketing the AM radio band) to an unoccupied channel and listen to the discharges. The rhythm (random?) of the static was hypnotic -- sometimes long silences, sometimes clusters, nearer discharges being much louder. I imagine one could pick up signals 100+ miles away. The ADB arrow would franticly try to track the most recent or powerful discharge. (It was said that when the arrow was pointing in all directions, you were in trouble -- sane pilots are very wary of thunderstorms).

    I imagine meteors would sound similar? Will recordings be posted?
  • Meteor Acoustics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Any many say you can hear them too! See, for example Leonid Meteor Sounds [spaceweather.com]. Could be the power of suggestion, but one theory says that EMF from the ionization induces sounds in metallic nearby objects.

    Check out Slash for Astronomy at
    M57: The Ring [m57.org]

  • With a cheap male-male earphone cord from Radio Shack, you can connect the earphone jack of a cheap transistor radio to the input jack of your sound card.

    Now you can tune the radio to a weak station a few hundred miles away (getting just static), and let the computer do the listening all night long.

    In the morning, you can drop the data into Excel and graph it.

    The sound card will record quiet, interrupted by loud signals that show up as peaks in the graph.

    In my area (Silicon Valley) there are lots of stations to the south-southwest (Los Angeles) in the low part of the FM band.

    You can use this site to find them: Kodis [radiostation.com]
    It lists the power as well as the frequency for each station.

    A radio with a digital tuner makes it easy to set the frequency even when the station cannot be heard. A rotatable TV antenna is not required, but it would help by listening only in one direction, and by picking up weaker signals.

    If your TV has an earphone output (or you have a adapter plug for your VCR's output jack) you can use the TV in the same way.

    • The problem with this is limiter noise-- FM radios tend to output higher signal levels when they -aren't- tuned to a station than when they are.

      Unfortunately meteor scatter doesn't work for MF where AM stations are, but AM radios would be a much better bet (though auto gain control would hide the effect some here, even).

      • While that hasn't been my experience, all you really need is a way to tell the difference.

        If the static goes away and the radio gets quieter for a moment, that is still a fine indication of the meteor.

        And of course you can simply invert thr graph to make these look like peaks instead of notches.

        I'll post my results at the Scitoys message board [scitoys.com].

  • This is common practice among radio amateurs (hams), although less passive - Meteor showers are when you break out the bigass VHF/UHF/even microwave transmitters.

    I'm not sure if it was a success, but during last year's Leonids an attempt was made to set the distance record for terrestrial (i.e. not moonbounce) communications on 10 GHz. Something like MA to FL...

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