Meteor Hunting at the MMT

On Tuesday evening at 21.20 local time a large meteor flashed across the Tucson sky. We captured this stunning event with the monitor cameras we use during daily operation of the MMT

The MMT All-Sky camera is mounted outside near the MMT Observatory which can view the whole sky. The astronomers and operators use this camera every night to monitor weather conditions from inside our control room. We save images roughly every 10 seconds and archive them for future use. Below is a link to a small movie clip with 3.5 minutes of the All-Sky camera images around the time of the meteor. Look carefully, on frame 8 there is a bright streak as the meteoroid enters the atmosphere and starts to burn-up. Then on frame 9 as the meteoroid completely burns up the flash is so bright it completely saturates the All-Sky camera.

Meteor on All-Sky Camera

We also have a number of web cameras located inside the telescope chamber that capture images once a minute. We were lucky enough to capture an image from one of the cameras right when the meteoroid first entered the atmosphere, the light is bright enough to illuminate the chamber. The image on the left-hand-side below is from 1 minute before the meteor and shows the chamber completely swamped in darkness. The image on the right-hand-side clearly shows the chamber being illuminated by the meteor. This image corresponds exactly in time with frame 8 of the movie clip, so sadly we missed capturing an image at the peak of the event.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] estimate the trajectory of the fireball. The folks at the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope) posted a movie and some more images on their blog. The images show the inside of the MMT dome a minute before the fireball and during the fireball […]

  2. Claudianus said

    […] estimate the trajectory of the fireball. The folks at the MMT (Multiple Mirror Telescope) posted a movie and some more images on their blog. The images show the inside of the MMT dome a minute before the fireball and during the fireball […]
    +1

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