Visit Mr. Ito of the Nippon Meteor Society (NMS)

Hello everybody,

Yesterdayevening we have had a meeting with Mr. Daiyu Ito, one of the active meteor photographers in the Nippon Meteor Society (NMS -Japan). Mr. Ito visited the Netherlands for his work and we took the opportunity to meet in his hotel in Amsterdam and exchange information about our activities and equipment. Present besides Mr. Ito were: Robert Haas, Casper ter Kuile and me (all of DMS). We had brought with us our equipment and some recent articles/photographs etc. Mr. Ito brought photographs of his equipment and some recent articles.
During this evening we discussed many items. Of course a lot of technical information exchange on meteor photography (the Japanese NMS is one of the very few amateur meteor organizations besides our Dutch Meteor Society where serious multi-station orbital determinations with photographic and video equipment are conducted), but also the plans for the upcoming Leonids and many more, including Draconids and a meteorite fall.
Below a brief abstract of our conversations.

Mr. Ito told us that he has no opportunity to observe the Leonids from abroad, so he stays in Japan and plans observations there. But he suspects that Japan will just miss the true storm peak because twilight starts early. Also, weather is a concern as he pointed out.

The photographic equipment Mr. Ito uses is quite similar to what we use in the Netherlands, but deviates on one major point. The system he employs combines four Canon T-70's mounted together on a block with combined rotating shutter (which is quartz controlled). The sytem is automatized with electronics (we use the command back for that purpose, but the principle is the same) that can be programmed in advance. The main difference is that while we use stationary cameras (star trail images), Mr. Ito's setup is mounted on a parralactic mount (pinpoint guided star images). The reason is, as Mr. Ito explains, that he works all alone (unlike us, we are usually with a team of at least 4 persons) and therefore meteors are easily missed. His setup overcomes the problem when time of appearance of a photographed meteor is not accurately known. There are also some differences in techniques used for measuring the negatives which are however rather technical (Hans c.s.: Mr. Ito measures the center of a break by measuring both start and end And then averaging). Anyway, we exchainched a lot of information about technical and practical aspects, film choice etc (Japanese usually use high speed 1600 ISO films, we use 400 ISO). I am quite sure both we and Mr. Ito learned a lot from each other on these aspects and we certainly will try some of his ideas! One thing to mention is that Mr. Ito told us that one of his colleagues had used infra-red film for the Leonids and they did very well on that film (better than normal film), but star images are a problem. Also, the eta Aquarids turned out to do very badly in IR!

Mr. Ito has observed the Draconid outburst of 1985. He did not 'believe' in an outburst in advance, but when he started his first meteor looked like a Draconid. The second too. So he decided to plot the third: definitely a Draconid! Many more followed that night. Mr. Ito has missed the true activity peak, but catched a large part of the descending activity with still 1 meteor per 2 minutes when he started. He described them as rather faint, but very slow and therefore some were photographed (not by him: he started photography only later in his observing career). After half an hour Mr. Ito started to use a 'ramka' (a device which restricts the field of view, for high activity), but he told us that he found it very uncomfortable. We told him that we are looking forward to next October's apparition and are planning a campaign. Mr. Ito thinks that activity definitely will occur, although he was not sure whether it would be as high like 1985. Most interresting: he told us that he and several other Japanese observers observed a low but definite Draconid activity last year (about 1-2 per hour). That suggests good prospects for coming apparition.

Mr. Ito calls himself "the most lucky meteor observer in the world". And he is right! The reason is, that he has been close withness to a meteorite fall in 1996: one of the fragments hit the Company where he was employed at that time! He told us that he spend many lunch-breaks the following weeks searching the companies terrains for more fragments (in vain, allas). He and his colleagues have investigated eye-wittness accounts and produced a trajectory of the fireball. Three photographs turned up, one very scenic with a meteor above snowy mountain peaks, another very spectacular with fragments, a little bit like peakskill. All are actaully 'snapshots' taken by people who where photographing the scenic mountains, a boat etc. There are also some pictures of the airborne dust cloud left by the fireball/meteoroid.

At the end of this very pleasant meeting, Mr. Ito gave us a box with Japanese cookies as a present from his country, and we presented him with a t-shirt with the DMS logo. And of course, we exchanched reprints from articles, photographs etc.
It was very worthwhile to meet Mr. Ito and learn about the Japanese activities and techniques. Especially, the exchange of ideas on photography was very worthwhile and I am sure both Mr. Ito and we learned a lot from it.

- Marco Langbroek
Dutch meteor Society, the Netherlands

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back.gif This page was last modified on July 27, 1998 by
Casper ter Kuile, Marco Langbroek and Robert Haas