Tracking fireballs for science

A free app lets you log a meteor just after seeing it

Fireballs in the Sky, a free new app, lets you track meteors and log them into a research database.

Fireballs in the Sky/Desert Fireball Network

Watching a meteor race across the night sky is a romantic experience. And now it can be a scientific one as well. The new Fireballs in the Sky app lets you track fiery objects and enter them into a research database.

Scientists at Curtin University in Australia are tracking fireballs (meteors that are very large and bright) using cameras across Australia in a project called the Desert Fireball Network.

Their new app harnesses cell phone cameras all over the world to gather data on meteor and fireball sightings. When you see one, point your phone at the sky and click where it began and ended, then adjust settings for size and brightness. You can see if other people logged the same object, and the data help scientists determine where the meteor came from and, hopefully, where it ended up.

The app is available free in iTunes for iOS devices and in the Google Play store for Android devices. 

Bethany was previously the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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