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Capturing meteor impacts of a New Moon?

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#1 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:41 AM

Anyone tried to capture meteor impacts on the moon during a New Moon?

 

What would it require?

 

Simpliest setup I can think of would be a tracking telescope with a HD motion sensing security camera. 

A small bright flash should trigger a capture photo.  What are the odds of capturing something in six hours?


Edited by CharlesC, 17 February 2019 - 09:54 AM.


#2 PETER DREW

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:58 AM

The system could work but capturing such an event within a 6 hour window is optimistic. The last recorded lunar impact was during the recent total eclipse. Imaging during one of the main meteor showers should give the best chance.



#3 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:05 AM

Just found a story of astronomers capturing two impacts within 24 hours.  Can't be that rare.

https://www.space.co...t-the-moon.html



#4 Ron359

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 10:14 AM

The biggest problem would be new moon is closest to the Sun so sky brightness, glare and safety would be a problem.  Just seeing the youngest crescent has been an observing challenge for many years.   NASA has an impact monitoring telescope - you might look and see if they bother with new moon.  If you can get around glare etc., a red filter would  remove the blue sky background so an impact might show as a tiny brief flash where the moon is.  


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#5 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 11:14 AM

The biggest problem would be new moon is closest to the Sun so sky brightness, glare and safety would be a problem.  Just seeing the youngest crescent has been an observing challenge for many years.   NASA has an impact monitoring telescope - you might look and see if they bother with new moon.  If you can get around glare etc., a red filter would  remove the blue sky background so an impact might show as a tiny brief flash where the moon is.  

 

I googled and found NASA Lunar Impact Monitoring site here

 

That site even has a link encouraging others to observe here listing requirements to do so.

Even has a free software download to scan video for impacts. 

 

NASA uses two 14" SCT with Watec Ultimate H2 cameras capturing video at 1/30 second exposures. 

Pretty ordinary equipment anyone can duplicate. 

 

Here is NASA list of recorded moon impacts from 2016-18.  As many as 20 per night during meteor shower.

https://www.nasa.gov...ar_impacts.html

 

Reading NASA info it looks like anyone can do this with minimal equipment if done during a meteor shower.



#6 RedLionNJ

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 11:58 AM

Absolutely none of those NASA impact candidates were around new moon.

 

The majority of the non-shower candidates were around first quarter where the moon is still above the horizon in a dark sky.

 

The shower candidates were at approximately 10% illumination.

 

Detecting a 3rd or 4th magnitude impact against Earthshine would be next to impossible. You would need an exceptionally bright event.



#7 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 01:00 PM

If you go through the site you'll see they limit monitoring to 10% illumination and then limit frame to non-illuminated areas of Moon.  NASA did it with minimal equipment with resolution down to 10gram meteorites.   Independenat observers are doing it too in this link NASA provided.

https://www.nasa.gov...rvations33b.pdf

 

While NASA uses 14" SCT these amateurs are using 4" to 10" telescopes with cameras varying from ASI120 to ASI1600.


Edited by CharlesC, 17 February 2019 - 01:15 PM.


#8 Tom Glenn

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 02:23 PM

A few points.  First, lunar impacts are not detected during a "New Moon", but rather during a lunar crescent phase on the portion of the Moon's surface that is not illuminated by the Sun.  Second, your list of "Independent Observer Reports" lists 33 potential impacts in 10 years.  That should tell you about how easy it is.  Your more comprehensive list of impacts detected from 2016-2018 is from the NASA sponsored team.  It may appear that minimal equipment is required, and that's true (to an extent) but the challenge here is more one of data management, and the fact that it's not glamorous or exciting work for amateurs to do.  It will also require a LOT of hard drive space and computing power to conduct a project like this efficiently.  

 

The recent lunar eclipse saw multiple independent video recordings of a lunar impact.  This was unique, but an eclipse is a unique time to observe the Moon, because it has very low levels of illumination.  Still, this was a chance occurrence and cannot be expected every eclipse.  At non-eclipse times, the challenge is mostly one of tedious data management with very little chance of success, which is why it is best performed by professional teams.  What you would need to do is continuously record the non-illuminated surface of the Moon, and then use software to comb through the data and search for brief flashes.  This is not practical to perform manually, but there is software that can do it.  The flash would be on the order of a pixel or two and last a fraction of a second.  You then need to isolate the relevant frames, get an exact time stamp, and then look at your video file for your other telescope and camera that was recording simultaneously (you need two independent scopes and cameras, or you need to be working with a team that does).  Only in cases in which the flash appears at the same point at the same time stamp can you consider an impact to have occurred, at which point you could send your data to NASA for independent confirmation.  

 

So you're correct that none of this requires especially fancy equipment, but it is boring, time consuming, and would at least require you to have a computer (or several computers) with good processing power and massive hard drive space.  A several hour recording of the Moon at reasonable resolution will be at least several hundred gigabytes (and that's if filming 4K, which these days would probably be the absolute minimum quality.....true raw files would be several terabytes), which might not sound like a lot these days, but if you are working alone it won't take long to accumulate more data than you have time to process, which is why you usually see this type of data coming from coordinated teams with access to multiple computers, usually working in a professional setting, or at least as part of a professional collaboration.  But the impact detected during the recent eclipse does show that it is possible to simply get lucky!  So you can give it a try.


Edited by Tom Glenn, 17 February 2019 - 02:31 PM.

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#9 CharlesC

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:13 PM

NASA was using low resolution Watec Ultimate H2 camera with only 380k pixels (0.3 megapixels) not 4K so storage requirements are low (6 hours ~ 4gig ) NASA provides free software to search through video.  That software is 10 years old so a modern i7 quad core laptop should have no problem.  I don't think it would be hard to do.  Just have to do dry runs to get equipment and process ironed out and be ready for a decent meteor shower. 


Edited by CharlesC, 17 February 2019 - 04:27 PM.


#10 Tom Glenn

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:30 PM

NASA was using low resolution Watec Ultimate H2 camera with only 380k pixels (0.3 megapixels) not 4K so storage requirements are low (6 hours ~ 4gig ) NASA provides free software to search through video.  That software is 10 years old so a modern i7 quad core laptop should have no problem.  I don't think it would be hard to do.  Just have to do dry runs to get equipment and process ironed out and be ready for a decent meteor shower. 

Well it sounds like you've already convinced yourself it will be easy, so good luck to you.  I look forward to seeing your results if you have any.  Just make sure you have two scopes going or have somebody else imaging at the same time with GPS time synched cameras.  Otherwise a bright flash in one pixel means nothing.  Good luck.  


Edited by Tom Glenn, 17 February 2019 - 04:31 PM.

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#11 t_image

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:42 PM

Anyone tried to capture meteor impacts on the moon during a New Moon?

 

What would it require?

 

Simpliest setup I can think of would be a tracking telescope with a HD motion sensing security camera. 

A small bright flash should trigger a capture photo.  What are the odds of capturing something in six hours?

You found the NASA links already, but this topic has been a conversation on CN a few times already-with some other good links and info.(more in the Lunar section)...

https://www.cloudyni...-impact-search/

https://www.cloudyni...rding-networks/
https://www.cloudyni...s/#entry9001445

 

As to certain naysayer objections,

I delay in deconstructing them point-by-point for now,

although it makes me sad how often many posters pile-on on a subject they haven't acknowledge they've looked into themselves.

Mental experiments without information often end up with false conclusions because the info they form the premises with are lacking....

 

Of course as stated before (not to repeat again, but to give credit), the point is valid that the New Moon is due to orbital mechanics always near the Sun, so there are not a lot of night+New Moon over-the-horizon opportunities ..

But that is a minor point since one can adjust target recording days....

 

As to motion-sensing,

you are correct in principle that a set-up with auto-detect would make storage space and detection efforts easily.

However, there is some difficulty in the matter.

No consumer camera features (such as motion-detect) would offer reliable triggering.

Spatial resolution: The first challenging is to record realtime video >30fps with a camera pixel size-to optical focal length (while being bound by atmospheric seeing limits) so that your spatial resolution would capture an event that is more than a pixel in size....Of course, more major events (like the recent TLE capture) will need less than the smaller events.....Often this is in tandem with camera output resolution as the even needs to be represented by more than one pixel.

Pixel detection: so the running software needs to receive an input of video frames and compare pixels between frames. Ironically this is a common real-time process in video since compressed video is created with processors that (depending on compression scheme) look for similarities/differences between frames and for efficiency sake encode pixel changes and with math simplify any static parts (no need to be redundant).

The challenge:

what happens when the tracking isn't perfect and the Moon drifts a few pixels over a bit of frames. A false positive happens.

what happens with video noise as pixel values changes from frame to frame....A false positive happens...

 

There are a few packages that offer pre-roll (constantly recording to a buffer) and will capture the data to storage when triggered...

These apps are designed to detect meteors and other rare events:

http://sonotaco.com/e_index.html

https://www.azcendan...viOverview.html

 

Some of the top video editing software packages have auto-detect scene-change algorithms that (post record) analyze through clips and mark timecode. The value in the sophisticated ones is that the pixel change sensitivity can be customized. One can simply set the analyzer to take a few passes with different sensitivities and find candidates that can be manually watched.

 

As to recording and analyzing in post, it seems a better method as analysis can be performed at various levels to find a candidate that might have been a false-negative trigger with auto mode.

As to software resources nowadays, one can easily take advantage of macros and macro-recorders/task schedulers, etc. to set up their computer to analyze through recorded content without much effort.

 

Exposure-so unfortunately the events are rare so it would be futile to wait for events to use to calibrate your gear, but the challenge is capturing enough dynamic range in the darkened part of the Lunar surface so as to capture an event with a flash that is __ amount brighter. I imagine there would be a sweet-spot.

A trick I often use with auto-detect of events through a long video clip: post-process the footage in such a way that it makes the content easy for the detection analysis to work.

I can't explain at length since I rely on many years of video processing experience,

but realize that one is not limited by the constraints of the state of the raw video footage....

Add contrast, adjust the lift so regular noise is diminished, sharpen, etc......All easily done in a video editor and then can be rendered for analysis by the apps above, etc.....

 

As to "two witnesses" ie having two cameras/OTA to document that same event to rule-out a hardware issue (cosmic ray, random noise flash),

one may consider having two different quality set-ups. the redundant one only need to capture the event above the noise floor as a verification, and not need to be ultra-sensitive to trigger an auto-record trigger or be triggered with post analysis. Syncing time code (as simple as using a clapboard or audio time report) is all that is needed,

as once a likely candidate is found after manual viewing it (from software analysis results),

one can jump to the full recorded secondary setup and see if any noticeable event was captured.

Note there are some phenomenon that will produce some false positive flashes in two cameras: glint off a geostationary satellite transiting in front of the Moon (perspective-wise), also weather-balloon with flashing beacon, even a rare-head-on meteor (or smaller than resolution of capture gear) event entering our atmosphere), etc....

 

Having recording the Moon and Sun over many hours of time to capture other interesting things (like transits of balloons/birds/planes, etc), it isn't too much of a feat over the long run.

you just need to discipline yourself to regularly do it and don't expect first success...

 

As to frequency of occurrence, yes is important to realize that depending on set-up you might not capture often,

but having regularly filmed realtime video of telescopic meteors,

even with a narrow FOV, one can capture rare things some times.

It is often debated that one can capture more meteors with a wide lens, and yes for the bright and larger ones,

but I regularly experience capturing lots more total (including smaller/fainter) meteors with larger focal lengths with lenses that have large apertures and my sensitive a7s.

Not everything about capturing rare phenomenon and statistics is intuitive.....

 

As to the "leave it up to professionals," one need only look up the story of Lovejoy and his home set-up that has discovered a few comets.

One obvious flawed assumption ignores that often in astronomy funding for professional projects is hard to come by,

but any ol' amateur with some initiative can invest time and energy and resources that is probably lacking with pro efforts.

Best isn't best if it doesn't exist. And good enough is good enough to do it.....

 

Cheers!


Edited by t_image, 17 February 2019 - 04:50 PM.

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#12 Tom Glenn

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:59 PM

Lots of good information in the post above.  Just to be clear, I'm not a "naysayer" and I would never want to discourage someone from trying something challenging.  However, the OP asked what the odds were of capturing something in 6 hours of recording.  As a once off.....pretty much zero. Also, there is a history of people posting on this forum that have zero imaging experience of any kind, but who state that they are interested in some highly technical and niche area of imaging (such an lunar impacts).  I'm not saying that applies here btw.....just making an observation about some posts in the past.  Many times those posts are not serious, or at best are incredibly naive.  But if someone is serious, has the knowledge, and wants to try something challenging in the form of lunar impacts, and understands the difficulties and the chance of success, then more power to them.  The impact during the recent eclipse is a good example of what the "best case scenario" might be.  


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#13 RedLionNJ

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 11:45 PM

I am happy to be a "naysayer" - OP stated "during a new moon". I say zero chance.



#14 PrestonE

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 07:29 PM

Interesting article...57 impacts in the 90 hours detected...though with a 1.2 meter instrument.

 

https://cosmosmagazi...r-earth-objects

 

Best Regards,

 

Preston




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