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How to tune in to the shooting stars

The experiment

The Doppler method can be tried by anyone with a good shortwave receiver and a PC. Suitable software and a description of the method can be downloaded from software uses the sound card of the PC to analyse the signal. All that is needed is a connection from the headphone output of the receiver to the PC's sound card input. Download the software, install, read the help file and you are ready to go. Tune to a station around 500 km or so away. Switch to SSB mode, and start the software. All you need now are the Meteors!

Do it yourself

Have a go and let us here at ESA Science know how you get on! If you get a good result send the .wav file to us and we'll include it in our Leonids web site.

A simpler experiment

For this you use your FM receiver with an external aerial. Try to find a station a long way away (that's the difficult bit, as usually a nearby station gets in the way). Under normal circumstances the transmission should be difficult or impossible to detect, but when a meteor intervenes the signal jumps over the horizon and a brief fragment of the transmission can be heard. Depending on the type of transmission, it might sound like a tone, a fragment of music or voice, or simply noise. Contact lasts for as long as the meteor train persists, usually from 100 milliseconds to a few seconds.

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