The North American Meteor Network was established in June 1995 with three main purposes in mind: to recruit amateurs into the ranks of meteor observing; once recruited, provide guidance, instructions and training in the methods of meteor observing; and finally, to coordinate as many North American observations as possible to insure extensive coverage of sporadic and meteor shower activity.
There is a limited number of dedicated meteor observers worldwide. This lack of observers becomes extremely apparent when only North America is considered. Recruitment of observers is one of the primary reasons for the existence of the NAMN. Without people keeping watch for meteors, our understanding of meteor science would stagnate.
Anyone with an interest in meteors is welcome to join the network. We are an informal group with no membership applications or dues. Everything the network produces is done by volunteer efforts. We primarily use e-mail for communication among our members, but meteor watch notices and data reporting is sometimes done by letter and telephone. This Guide serves as the basic instruction manual for new observers of the North American Meteor Network. Meteor science is a constantly evolving field, so updates of this Guide will be made periodically. All of the materials NAMN publishes is made available to interested persons free of charge.
Meteor showers are known to exhibit unexpected activity and the only way to discover this is to insure complete coverage by coordinating observations. Because of this, NAMN has created what is considered a partnership with the International Meteor Organization (IMO). All of the observations we obtain are forwarded to the IMO for analysis and publishing. This insures our data is available to the international community for research purposes.
To study meteor showers, researchers need as much data from around the world as possible. As a "partner" with the IMO, we provide the data from North America longitudes. Our data is combined with that from Europe, Japan, Australia and other locations to provide a global analysis of a shower. This is the only means to provide a reliable analysis.
Meteor observing is easy, requires very little equipment, and can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. If you are interested in adding to our understanding of meteors, we invite you to begin observing with the North American Meteor Network. Once a serious interest is developed for meteor observing, it is recommended that the individual join a more formal organization devoted to the field. This allows you to share observations and experiences with others, become a more proficient observer, and see exactly how your efforts are improving our knowledge of meteor science. I recommend observers consider membership in the International Meteor Organization. More information on the IMO can be obtained by contacting:
International Meteor Organization
North American Coordinator
161 Vance Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910
I would like to thank Neil Bone for permission to use material from his book Meteors and the International Meteor Organization for making available some of the information found in the following pages and for allowing me to use material from their Handbook for Visual Meteor Observations.
Comment from the Coordinator:
This guide was designed with the beginner in mind. Although not covering the complete field of meteor observing, enough information is provided to learn how to begin making scientific observations. I expect to update and expand it occasionally to make the information more accurate and complete. I also expect errors to have crept in - those that have are solely my responsibility. Comments and suggestions concerning this handbook are welcome.
Back to Table of Contents