Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cosmic Spherules

It's been a decent meteor season this year. The Persieds were actually pretty good on the night of the 12th rather than the 11th. The Leonids were disappointing after all the predictions of a minor storm. I even set up a radio observing post to record radio 'pings' from nearby meteors for the Leonids but recorded none. The next shower is the Geminids in mid December. I'll be setting up the radio again, but this time with a more sensitive receiver.
Meanwhile, I heard that you can collect micrometeorites from your roof. Just put some strong magnets in your rain gutter and after a good rain, clean the magnets and look at the dust under a microscope. Well it hadn't rained all summer and there was a good rain forecast, so I put some small neodymium magnets in the rain gutter. The next morning, I pulled them off the roof and dried them in a dish on a hot plate. I had bought a usb microscope at a yard sale a couple years ago that works quite well. I spread the dust from the magnets on a slide and placed it under the microscope and there they were! Micrometeorites or, as scientists call them, "Cosmic Spherules".

The picture above is from that dust that was washed off my roof magnified 200x. Click on it to make it bigger.