Posted by: norstarnewengland | September 12, 2009

Jupiter’s New Black Spot

On a night sky observation that I went to around July 20, there was the usual set up of telescopes and mixture of people who were serious observers and other people coming to see. This night, Jupiter came up in the southeastern sky pretty late, about 9 pm. It was 10 pm before it was high enough to have any quality observation, due to the thickness of the atmosphere that had to be seen through. Even at 10, the image ‘boiled’ quite a bit and the details of the planet features were mostly washed out. Someone noted that there was a dark feature and noted that it could be that a moon shadow was transiting over Jupiter’s surface. Little did we know then that another amateur astronomer had noted a black spot on Jupiter that was apparently from an impact by an object like an asteroid or comet!

We talked about this in the next observation night in August. We couldn’t agree whether we saw the black spot or a shadow. But it was interesting how close we could have been to seeing great changes on otherwise ordinary stellar objects.



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