The Delta Aquarids and Perseids meteor showers overlap in the coming days, providing several great meteor shower viewing opportunities. The National Geographic website has some great tips on viewing the showers.
Beyond viewing, we are planning to physically capture some meteorites. Well, actually we are setting-up to capture micrometeors. We can’t wait to see what star and comet dust looks like under a microscope. Micrometeors are small, light, metallic, rocky debris left by comets and stellar explosions. The best time to capture these particles is shortly after a meteor shower event, so we have consulted the book 100 Amazing Make-It-Yourself Science Fair Projects book to guide us through the process.
Collecting your specimens
Gathering micrometeors sounds highly technical, but the procedure is straightforward and even younger children can participate. Place a glass pie plate outside for a few days before and after the meteor shower event to collect rainwater (the micrometeor particles fall to the ground attached to raindrops). If you live in a dry region, you can fill a pie plate with distilled water and collect micrometeors that fall to the ground attached to dust particles.
After you’ve successfully collected rainwater (or dust particles) for a few days after the meteor shower event, cover a strong magnet with a small cellophane bag and place it in the dish, slowly sweeping the magnet across the dish (micrometeors are rich in iron and will be attracted to the magnet).
Carefully remove the magnet and place it in a second dish filled with distilled water. Remove the magnet from the bag and swish the bag around in the water until any micrometeors fall to the bottom of the plate.
The next step is to evaporate the water from the pie plate so you are just left with your micrometeors. If you do not have a hot plate, you can use the oven but be sure that your pie plate is made from Pyrex or another oven safe material.
Collect the specimens with a magnetized sewing needle and mount the specimens onto microscope slides for further investigation. We are planning to use a simple hand magnifier lens but an inexpensive digital microscope will work fine, too. Check out this previous GeekMom post if you’d like to learn more about using a digital microscope.
If anyone manages to capture any specimens, please share your photos (or stories) in the comments section of this post!
7 thoughts on “Collect Micrometeors During Double Meteor Showers This Week”
This sounds very cool. I hope people post pictures.
Thanks, Kate. We’ll post pictures of any micrometeors we capture!
We’ve tried to collect micrometeors using similar techniques with no luck. I’ll have to try your method and see if we get anything!
This is our first attempt. If we don’t capture any this time, we’ll try again in November and December during the Geminids, Leonids, and Ursids!
Amazing! I’ll be bookmarking this one for future use. I hope you catch some micrometeors!
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