Historically meteor astronomy is one area where amateurs have always been able to make significant contributions. In fact, in the 19th century, it was amateur naked eye and telescopic observations which laid down much of the foundations of meteor astronomy. References to this work can be found in any textbook on meteors. The 19th century observers concentrated on counting meteors, estimating magnitudes and plotting the meteor paths on star maps. Their main interest was to determine hourly rates and shower radiants. An important milestone was Denning’s radiant catalogue (Denning 1882), which included 4367 shower radiants. Although it is now believed that many of these radiants are spurious, the catalogue is still a useful reference. Unfortunately Denning and other 19th century observers often combined sporadic meteors observed on different nights into a minor stream radiant. This habit of “radiant hunting” is even today quite popular among some amateur observers. However, in all fairness it should be emphasized that most of the 20th century amateur meteor observers applied very strict criteria to their radiant determinations. Names such as J.M. Prentice in Great Britain, R.A. McIntosh in New Zealand and R. Rigollet in France may be mentioned.
KeywordsMeteor Shower Meteor Stream Meteor Radar Meteor Section Meteor Path
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