Count Perseids on Your Android Smartphone

- 2 Comments - In:

Our friend Chris Crawford is running an crowd-sourced program to measure the spatial distribution of Perseids. Anybody with an Android smartphone can participate. You simply download the app. It has all the instructions you need.

Basically, you just watch Perseids, and press the ‘volume up’ button when you see one. The app records the exact time that you saw each Perseid. In the morning, it automatically emails your data to our data-collecting email address, along with the longitude and latitude. If he can get enough people submitting data, Chris will be able to analyze it statistically for spatial patterns. Your help would be much appreciated!

Chris first watched the Perseids in 1964, and every single year since then he has watched, although in some years the skies were so bad that he only saw a couple — but he saw at least one Perseid every single year. Like all beginners, he had the distinct impression that they were non-randomly distributed, and he wondered if he could test for the possibility. While an undergraduate, Chris found enough published papers to dispel his belief that they were non-random. Still, he did a wild and crazy observation while an undergraduate; it included a random-number generator based on a macroscopic ideal gas (this was 1972!)

Then Chris got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in the 1999 Leonid MAC campaign. He build some of the equipment used in the campaign, and much later (2010), he wrote software that analyzed the videotapes of the Leonid activity. His software was closely tuned to the Leonids, and was very sensitive at detecting them. Chris compiled a database of some 26,000 Leonids; for each one he had absolute positions, speeds, heights, and so forth. He did a lot of analysis on the data, which you can find here.

Chris admits to have tried some pretty crazy things, but since he considers himself non- academic, he doesn’t have to worry about publishable stuff; he’s guided by his curiosity only.

Chris spatial analysis is based on his notion of “streamers” in a meteor stream (details about the way the motion of a streamer impact point across the surface of the earth can be found here.)

Unfortunately, the Perseids are an old stream, and any releases from Comet Swift-Tuttle are so old that any streamers would likely have dispersed by now. Still, Chris would like to give it a whirl.


  • Erin 1 year ago

    I have an Apple phone, but I would have loved to have been able to participate. I saw 17 from 3:00 am EST until 3:15 am EST. Charlotte, NC.

    Reply to Erin
  • Robert Norton 1 year ago

    Between 3:30 and 4:00 AM we were seeing some nice activity in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Some small with varying light intensity, a few Sky streakers with medium illumination, a couple really nice bright streaks. But somewhere I am guesstimating around 4:00 am behind us out of our view, was something incredible, it seemed to have bursts to it and approximately 8 to 10 seconds after the flash illuminated to where we were aware of it behind us can an explosion noise. My wife said it is lightning, but I don’t believe that is what it was. It had a different sound than lightning. Tonally it seemed different and it wasn’t accompanied by the rolling sound of thunder. I believe we missed viewing something very spectacular. I was just wondering if anyone else has any conformation of what we missed. Happy viewing.

    Reply to Robert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *