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1. Meteor Section's history

2. Main functions of the Meteor Section

1. Section's history

Meteor Section is one of the oldest sections in the Astronomical Society Ursa. It's main function is to act as part of the international meteor observing network and to popularise Meteor Astronomy. The section publishes observations and related discussions regularly in the Ursa Minor magazine (UMi) and spreads information on meteor phenomena in general.

Meteor Section was officially founded in 1976, when several different astronomy activity groups were officially recognised as part of the society's functions. The first section leader Markku Lindqvist, held the helm until the end of 1970's. Globally, in those days, the most significant organisation was BAA and some observing projects were accomplished by a handful of active section members. Seppo Salminen followed M. Lindquist as the section leader.

In the beginning of 1980's the activity decreased, until the section again found a new leader, Pekka Parvianen, who did good job till the end of his term, 1986. During those years the section had become part of the international observing network and all observations became archived accordingly. In the list of merits of P. Parvianen, we can add the very first Meteor Section's "Bolide"-article ever, printed in the Ursa Minor magazine (UMi).

From 1986 till 1994, Teemu Hankamäki acted as the section's leader. It was the era of international co-operation, breakthrough of home computers and little later - the Internet. As IMO (International Meteor Organisation) was founded in Central Europe, our Finnish Meteor Section soon became affiliated to it. Number of our meteor observers grew quite rapidly making possible the formation of special interest groups. In 1993 the first radio observations of meteors were published on the UMi, to be followed by automated video observations by some 10 years later. But before that, in mid 1990's, the activity again diminished, as the need to find new section leader became more and more evident.

In the summer of 1994 Marko Toivonen, the most active visual observer in the country, became the new leader. Responsibilities became shared, as Markku Nissinen took over the handling of radio observations and editing of the "Bolide" article in UMi.

The unofficial goal of the section nowadays, is set to gather data from at least 50 h of visual meteor observing from Finnish observers annually, during which at least 500 meteors are seen. The observing time in our section is heavily concentrated around the major meteor showers. Majority of observing is done in August, mostly because of clear weather and warm nights. The most observed streams in Finland are Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids and of course during the outburst years, the Leonids. Other projects are arranged on difficult-to-observe and uncertain meteor streams and predicted outbursts. If you are interested in these subjects, feel free to contact the Meteor Section.

2. Main functions of the Meteor Section

1. Purpose:

The main function of our Meteor Section is to promote the hobby of meteor observing in Finland, to gather and publish observations and summaries in the Astronomical Society (Ursa) Section's own publication Ursa Minor (UMi) (ISSN 0780-7945). Though the Finnish Meteor Section is affiliated to IMO, observers are encouraged to mail their observations directly also to IMO to avoid delays and additional workload to section leader.

2. The basis of activities:

Since this just a hobby for us and we do not get paid for doing it, not so much specific scientific work can be done, for instance in matters, such as fallen meteorites, though the section quite interested in receiving useful reports on bright fireballs, that may have dropped a meteorite. Such reports from the public may one day lead to finding a new Finnish meteorite.

Section leader's role is mostly in the field of popularisation, public talks at astronomical fairs, relaying information to media (radio & newspapers) when requested and in replying to questions regarding any meteor related issue. Please remember - this is a meteor section, and our main field of interest, is focused on the tiny particles flying in to the atmosphere; sporadic meteors and meteor streams, their origin, behaviour, and specially in observing them, but we may sometimes expand beyond those, resources permitting.

3. Targets of activities:

Activities in the sections are dominated by meteor streams and observing them, but also sporadic meteors are logged. Below is a list of ZHR >10 meteor streams with short description:

- Quadrantids      - annual observing target, observed every winter when weather has been favourable.
- Virginids        - observed during the quiet spring months along with sporadic meteors.
- Lyrids           - a regular observing season closing shower in Finland after cold winter.
- Perseids         - the most observed shower.
- Kappa-Cygnids    - observations of this minor shower are inspired by warm and dark conditions in August.
- Alpha-Aurigids   - usual observing target in the early autumn followed by delta-Aurigids.
- Orionids         - an annual observing target, bad weather often imposes limitations.
- Taurids          - a Virginids-like secondary observing target.
- Leonids          - famous of meteor storms, here weather is often unfavourable and prevents observing.
- Geminids         - one of the most important showers of the year.
- Ursids           - an annual observing target, sometimes weather limits the observing of this shower.

List of observers and observing statistics from past years

4. On popularisation and external image of the section:

The "Bolide" article in UMi is the most visible aspect of the section along with these Meteor Section's web pages and the mailing list (meteorit-l@ursa.fi) to those who are it's subscribers. All imaginable issues are dealt with in these medias, such as: observing results, upcoming projects, meetings, general information etc. UMi articles occasionally feature recent developments in professional meteor astronomy to broaden the views for those interested in more, than just observing.  The section's leader is also involved in editing the meteor-related chapters printed in Ursa's annual astronomical publication, "Tähdet".

Section's annual summary reports are sent to Ursa's board of directors and published in UMi. In spite of frequent inter-member communication via e-mail and phone, the section's meetings have always been an effective forum to discuss section's projects and other future plans. The most important point of these meetings is perhaps re-enforcing the observer community's spirit. Therefore it would be good, if as many, as possible, would be present and participate in laying out the future guidelines and sustaining democracy within the section. The most significant of these conventions is the traditional mid-summer "Cygnus"-meeting, although the section's very own autumn observing & sauna-party, held in Verla, gathers section's core members around the same table and in sauna in late September or October.


Marko Toivonen

Translated and updated/edited by I. Yrjölä, Sep. 21. 2003

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Lyytinen's Team Leonid predictions for year 2001

Lyytinen's Team Leonid predictions for year 2002

Leonid predictions for year 2003

Leonid predictions for year 2004

Predictions of future Leonids trail encounters

Finnish page of Meteor Section