This is an interesting project put on by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Project (MEO) using some low light B/W video cameras placed into a skyward looking weatherproof housing made of a clear dome and some PVC pipe fittings and connected to a network to submit data to a central website. They have only three cameras operating at the moment, but it seems to me that this is the sort of project that would be perfect for the citizen science community to get involved in as these devices appear well within reach cost-wise of the hobbyist astronomer/electronics tinkerer of which there are many.
From the NASA All Sky Fireball Network:
“What was that bright light in the sky last night?”
Intro: The NASA All-sky Fireball Network is a network of cameras set up by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) with the goal of observing meteors brighter than the planet Venus, which are called fireballs. The collected data will be used by the MEO in constructing models of the meteoroid environment, which are important to spacecraft designers.
Cameras: Cameras in the network are specialized black and white video cameras with lenses that allow for a view of the whole night sky overhead.
Network: The network currently consists of 3 cameras placed in locations in north Alabama, northwest Georgia, and southern Tennessee. The network is growing all the time, with plans to place a total of 15 cameras in schools, science centers, and planetaria in the United States, predominately east of the Mississippi River, where there are few such systems.
Data: The cameras have overlapping fields of view, which means that the same fireball can be detected by more than one camera. This allows us to calculate the height of the fireball and how fast it is going. We can even work out the orbit of the meteoroid responsible for creating the fireball, which gives us clues about whether it came from a comet or an asteroid. If the fireball is traveling slow enough, and makes it low enough, it is possible that it can survive to the ground as a meteorite.
This website: This website displays fireball data in the form of images, movies, diagrams, and text files. The data is organized by date. Click on a date in the list on the left to see the fireballs detected that night. If the page appears blank that means no fireballs were detected, probably because of bad weather. The website is automatically updated every morning at 8:00 am Central Time. Only the last 3 weeks of data is available online.
The MEO has created material for educators, containing background information about meteors, a description of the network, and suggestions for classroom use of the data. This is available below as a workshop, along with accompanying datasets and video.
Workshop (47Mb PDF)
Datasets (Excel Spreadsheets):