Sounds of a meteor shower

Sounds of a meteor shower

Sounds of a meteor shower

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 3 2011 9:28 AM

Sounds of a meteor shower

In August, I wrote about how you can listen to meteors: radar bounced off their ion trail can be converted to sound, making eerie, creepy noises.

Via astronaut Ron Garan comes this video of recordings made by the U.S. Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas during the Perseid meteor shower. It's very, very cool:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement


As I wrote in the earlier post, here's how this works:

You're not really hearing sound, of course: meteors burn up in our atmosphere at a height of 100 km or so, too high to directly carry sound waves. But the Air Force has a radar surveillance facility in Texas that beams radio waves into the sky. When a bit of cosmic fluff streaks through our sky, the ionized trail it leaves reflects the radio waves, producing an echo. This radio wave is then translated into sound, so you can effectively hear a meteor!

Advertisement

The initial "whoosh" is from the meteor itself, and the dying whistling sound is from the ionized gas it leaves behind, which slowly recombines and fades.

... which is all well and good, but science aside, all I could think of while listening to that was the soundtrack to Ren and Stimpy walking along the landscape inside the hideous vortex of the black hole.



Related posts: