Fireballs In The Sky
by: Digital Media Unit • 189
If you’ve ever seen a meteor, or a bright fireball, then you’ve experienced one of nature’s true wonders. If you’ve ever wondered what they are and where they come from, this app is for you. It will turn your smartphone into a scientific instrument that can quickly and easily record all the relevant information from a fireball sighting. And if enough other users observed the same event we can combine all the observations, work out the trajectory of the fireball, and determine the orbit of the rock before it hit the top of our atmosphere. We’ll then send you back details of what it was that you saw, and where it came from in the Solar System. As well as tracking your own fireballs you can view sightings reported by other people.
The app is also your way to access the Desert Fireball Network (DFN) research project at Curtin University. The DFN is a network of cameras that image the whole sky every 30 seconds, allowing us to get trajectories for fireballs, calculate their orbits, and determine fall positions for the rocks. The app will keep you up-to-date with fireball news and events, and allow you to view some of the incredible images from the DFN cameras in our picture gallery. By mid-2015 the DFN will be tracking whatever is coming through the atmosphere over about 1/3 of Oz. If you’re in Australia, and any of the DFN cameras spot one of your fireballs, we’ll update you with that info as well. Your observations will also help us – spotting fireballs that we miss, and getting more accurate trajectories for the ones that we see. You’ll be a part of a major new research project.
The app is designed to allow you to record all the important information about a fireball soon after you see it, in a quick, easy, and fun way. It will let you:
• Pinpoint the altitude and azimuth of the start and end of the fireball
• Build your own fireball. Select different options for duration, shape, brightness, colour and hue, and watch how an animated fireball changes to match what you’ve just seen. If it looked like it fragmented as it came through the atmosphere you can select different options for number of fragments, and see the animation change accordingly.
• Add any other notes or details to your sighting report.
• Keep track of your sightings, and those of other users.
• Get updates on your sightings, and see levels of detail in feedback: Was it seen by other users? If it was, then how many other users saw it? Was there enough information to work out a trajectory? What was its orbit: where did it come from in the solar system?
In addition, you’ll be able to:
• Get fireball news, and see updates on the DFN project, announcements and events
• Access our gallery of zoomable images – the fireballs we’ve seen and the meteorites that we’ve found. A great thing about the project is that the data are in the form of beautiful images. You’ll have access to all that and be able to see the best of the bunch for yourself.