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The standard deviation is a measurement of the con®dence that you can have in your measurement of a random process. You can usually expect that in more than half of your realizations, the observed number of meteors will fall within Æ1 À of the mean. In virtually all of your realizations, the observed number of meteors will fall within Æ2 À of the mean. p For a Poisson process, it turns out that N . So, if you measure 100 meteors per hour (during a major,pactive shower), you expect that the standard deviation of this measurement is 100 10.
You used these known radiants as the basis for deciding whether a particular meteor was a shower member or a sporadic. You might reasonably wonder if there are other, unrecognized, low-rate meteor showers that await discovery. After all, some of the sporadic meteors may very well be the children of long-dead comets, whose debris streams have been dispersed over the eons. They may also represent the outlying fringes of quite-dense meteor streams whose orbits don't quite intersect the Earth's orbitÐwe just skim through the lowdensity outer fringe of the meteor stream.
1. The time of stellar disappearance and reappearance in a lunar occultation is sensitive to details of lunar-limb topography. 30 Occultations [Ch. 2 compared with what you would have expected if the Moon were a perfect sphere. Conversely, if the star happens to be headed toward the peak of a lunar mountain, then its disappearance will happen sooner. Therefore, accurate interpretation of occultation timings requires that we have a good knowledge of the lunar-limb topography. Surprisingly, despite all of the spacecraft that have visited and orbited the Moon, there are signi®cant uncertainties in the limb's topography (``signi®cant'' in terms of the accuracy requirements for lunar occultation interpretation, where a few hundred feet of uncertainty in the limb position is noticeable).