Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Amateur astronomers spot humongous explosion on Jupiter (+video)

A possible comet or asteroid's impact on Jupiter Monday caused an explosion that was recorded on video by an amateur space watcher here on Earth.

By Tariq MalikSpace.com / September 12, 2012

Amateur astronomer George Hall captured this image of an apparent impact on Jupiter while recording video telescope observations of the planet on Sept. 10, 2012, from Dallas Texas.

George Hall/George's Astrophotography

Enlarge

An apparent impact on Jupiter early Monday created a fireball on the planet so large and bright that amateur astronomers on Earth spotted the flash.

Skip to next paragraph
George Hall captured a flash, likely an asteroid vaporizing in Jupiter's atmosphere, on September 10th, 2012.

The surprising impact on Jupiter was first reported by amateur astronomer Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisc., who was observing the largest planet in our solar system when the event occurred, according to the website Spaceweather.com, which tracks space weather and night sky events.

"It was a bright flash that lasted only 1.5 – 2 seconds," Peterson told Spaceweather.com. Peterson used a Meade 12-inch LX200GPS telescope to observe the event, which occurred near the southern edge of Jupiter's northern equatorial belt of clouds.  

In a report posted on the Cloudy Nights forum, Peterson said it wasn't clear if the impact would leave a scar on Jupiter much like those seen in 1994, when the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke into pieces and peppered the planet with debris, creating visible impact marks in Jovian cloud tops. It is also not yet known if the object to strike Jupiter was a small asteroid or comet.

"My best guess is that it was a small undetected comet that is now history, hopefully it will sign its name on Jupiter's cloud tops," Peterson wrote.

In Dallas, Texas, amateur astronomer George Hall read Peterson's initial report on an online Jupiter-observing forum.

"When I saw the post, I went back and examined the videos that I had collected this morning," Hall wrote on his night sky photography website on Monday.

Sure enough, Hall had captured a video of the Jupiter impact and reported that it occurred at 6:35 a.m. CDT (1335 GMT) on Sept. 10. He used a 12-inch LX200GPS telescope equipped with a 3x Televue Barlow and Point Grey Flea 3 camera.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!