Radio Observations of the Geminid Meteor Shower

These are the results of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower taken by the 'Hykeham Observatory' which runs a radio meteor set up 24/7. During the month of December meteors seem to come from the area around the constellation of Gemini and so the shower is called the Geminids. The radiant rises in the East about 6pm and sets in the West around 10am so between these hours we expect to see most meteors. 

The transmitted radio signal is based in Dijon, France and the received signal in the top two images show the doppler frequency and amplitude vs time of the ionised trail left by a meteor in the upper atmosphere. Frequency is across the top axis and time down the left hand side. S/N is a measure of the brightness of the object whilst Dur is a measure of the duration of the trail. You can see how many of the meteors were quite small (Dur 1 to 10). These would not be visible to the naked eye. The vertical dotted line in the top image is the radio beam bouncing off the Moon.

Above is how the maximum and minimum number of meteors detected varies day by day.The maximum per day is quite level except between the 12th and 16th December.

Even though the peak of the meteor shower occurred during the night of the 13th/14th December, there was a sudden drop in numbers detected for two hours during the peak.

Large meteors (Dur=20min) are fairly constant during the month except during the night of the maximum. This would suggest that very few Geminids were visible to the naked eye outside of the maximum.

Above is a typical daily result. During the afternoon when the radiant is low or on the opposite side of the Earth, very few meteors are recorded.

Above is the information on meteor counts during the period. Clearly seen is the peak but note the higher level generally received between the hours of 00h and 06h.

For more information on the observatory.