Jupiter's New Spot

An amateur astronomer discovers a new, mysterious spot on Jupiter which is most probably due to an impact event.

Amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley from Canberra, Australia captured an image of Jupiter on July 19 showing a possible new impact site. Anthony's image shows a new dark spot in the South Polar Region of Jupiter, at approximately 216° longitude in System 2. It looks very similar to the impact marks made on Jupiter when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the gas giant in 1994.


It has been confirmed this is an impact on Jupiter. Mike Salway shared the news Glenn Orton from JPL has imaged the Jupiter black spot with the NASA Infrared Telescope and he has confirmed it's an impact.

On his observing blog, Anthony Wesley said he began observing Jupiter at approximately 11pm local time (1300UTC), using a 14.5" Newtonian telescope. "I'd noticed a dark spot rotating into view in Jupiter's south polar region and was starting to get curious," he wrote. "When first seen close to the limb (and in poor conditions) it was only a vaguely dark spot, I thought likely to be just a normal dark polar storm. However as it rotated further into view, and the conditions also improved, I suddenly realized that it wasn't just dark, it was black in all channels, meaning it was truly a black spot."

First he thought it might be a dark moon (like Callisto) or a moon shadow, but it was in the wrong place and the wrong size. "Also I'd noticed it was moving too slow to be a moon or shadow. As far as I could see it was rotating in sync with a nearby white oval storm that I was very familiar with -- this could only mean that the back feature was at the cloud level and not a projected shadow from a moon. I started to get excited."

• http://www.universetoday.com/2009/07/...
• http://jupiter.samba.org/

---

Calacademy's Science in Action strives to make science accessible for everyone and discuss its relevance in our everyday lives. We bring you science news through media screens and live chats on the museum floor, this Science Today website, podcasts, and monthly Nightlife programming. We gather and disseminate content through our partners, local programs, other media and Academy staff. And you.

• http://www.calacademy.org/sciencetoday/