As Earth this month enters the debris stream from Comet Swift-Tuttle — the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower — Amateur Radio “meteor scatter” (MS) propagation enthusiasts will aim antennas skyward to bounce signals off the ionized meteor trails. Already under way, the shower could peak at rates of 100 or more meteors per hour. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told Spaceweather.com that his agency’s All Sky Fireball Network has picked up more than 78 Perseids since July 27.
“Comet debris particles a few centimeters wide are hitting the atmosphere with an average speed of 59.6 km/s (133,350 MPH),” he told Spaceweather. Cooke said that Swift-Tuttle’s huge nucleus produces “a large number of meteoroids, many of which are hefty enough to produce fireballs.” So, opportunities for good viewing and MS abound.
Among those hoping to work the Perseid shower this year will be Roger Sturtevant, VE1SKY, and Jim Fisher, VE1JF — a couple of radio amateurs in Nova Scotia, Canada. They will operate on August 12 and 13 — the expected Perseid shower peak — from relatively rare grid square FN73, near the site of what’s sometimes called “Canada’s Roswell,” — a UFO sighting on October 4, 1967. As The Shelburne County Coast Guard explained on August 7, witnesses then reported seeing a sizeable, low-flying object hit the water. The incident sparked an investigation, and the mystery and controversy live on.
A few years ago, the Nova Scotia town began holding its “Shag Harbour Incident Festival” to commemorate the occasion. Sturtevant and Fisher will operate from the Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society Interpretive Centre.
“The operators describe the project as a good way to demonstrate a ‘fringe’ area of Amateur Radio for Interpretive Centre visitors, and it would provide them with a suitable site from which to attempt to the unusual contact with other radio operators,” The Shelburne County Coast Guard explained.
Sturtevant said on his QRZ.com page that operation will be on 2 meters on both MS and moonbounce — to take advantage of a “good quality moon” — for 2 days, demonstrating both propagation modes to visitors to the Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society Interpretive Centre. They also plan some SO-50 operation.