The Perseids meteor shower and Meteorwatch

Radio amateurs have long enjoyed the Perseids meteor shower as being a good one for making VHF Meteor Scatter (MS) contacts. Back in the 1980s, I was part of the Square Bashers Dxpedition group which made many MS QSOs on 144MHz from ‘rare’ locator squares. My first MS expedition was GB2XJ from the Lizard in Cornwall (IN89 these days).

Primarily, we used high speed CW, around 600-800 lpm (120-160wpm) generated by memory keyers and tape recorders to slow the morse down. By todays standards this probably seems agricultural and it worked well. We made contacts over 2000 kms.

These days, meteor scatter contacts on VHF very often use the WSJT software which is very effective. But you don’t need specialised equipment to make QSOs. At the peak of the shower, you will easily be able to make contacts on SSB – as reflections are quite long. Listen to 144.300, 50.150 or 70.200 and see what you hear.

The shower should peak on the 12th August, but you should be able to hear decent reflections for a day or two before the peak.

On Twitter, there’s been a great deal of interest generated in the whole subject of observing meteors. People all over the would are being encouraged to ‘tweet’ when they see a meteor and use the #meteorwatch hashtag. Adrian West (@virtualastro) has put together a brilliant website devoted to Meteorwarch which will run from Wednesday 11th August to Saturday 14th August. There’s a page devoted to detecting meteors by radio which provides plenty of information to get started.

Whether your a radio observer or a visual observer – enjoy the Perseids!

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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