Meteor Counter

Meteor Counter

Citizen Scientists with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch are encouraged to take these gadgets, loaded with the Meteor Counter app, along while stargazing. Start the Meteor Counter, lie down in a safe dark place, and be alert for shooting stars. Every time you see a meteor, tap the piano-like key corresponding to its brightness. Keys on the left correspond to dim meteors, which are barely visible to the naked eye. Keys on the right denote "jaw-dropping" fireballs.

With each keytap, the Meteor Counter records critical data such as the time you saw the meteor, the meteor's magnitude and your location. Users can also turn on an optional voice recorder to capture your own description of events. Afterward, these data are automatically uploaded to NASA researchers for analysis.

Project Details

  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    First, download the free Meteor Counter app from the Apple App store. Follow the app's instructions to get started.
    For additional information, view this instructional video.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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