Possible bright impact seen on Jupiter

Bright flash of a potential comet or asteroid striking Jupiter’s atmosphere earlier this morning (Sept. 10). This is single frame from a video made with a webcam by amateur astronomer George Hall. Credit: George Hall

Stop the presses! Word comes this evening of a possible new impact on Jupiter observed by amateur astronomer Dan Peterson of Racine, Wis. He saw “a bright white two second long explosion just inside Jupiter’s eastern limb” at 11:25:30 Universal Time (6:25 a.m. CDT) on September 10. Peterson was using a 12″ telescope at a magnification of 400x. The brief flash was located inside the southern edge of Jupiter’s North Equatorial Belt (NEB).

In an amazing bit of serendipity, George Hall, an amateur astronomer from Dallas, Texas, was also observing Jupiter at the same time and recorded a bright flash with a webcam mounted on his 12″ telescope at about 6:30 a.m. CDT.

The dark spot at the top of Jupiter appeared in the wake of an impact by a small asteroid into the planet’s clouds. It was first seen by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19, 2009. Credit: Anthony Wesley

If the impact is real, we should see a dark “sooty” cloud develop in the aftermath of the burnup/explosion similar to dark spots that developed after earlier hits by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994 and smaller ones in 2009 and 2010.

Amateurs who’d like to confirm these observations are urged to look at Jupiter at the earliest opportunity. The impact location is at System I longitude 335 degrees, latitude +12 degrees north. You can download Meridian to help you find out when that location is best visible from your time zone.

South is up and east to the right as you’d see the planet in a typical astronomical telescope. Credit: Claude Duplessis’ Meridian software

You can also use this frame grab from Meridian (left) with the approximate location of the flash shown by the white box. The possible impact zone will face observers tomorrow morning around 4 a.m. CDT (5 a.m. EDT, 2 a.m. PDT) when Jupiter is well placed for viewing high in the eastern sky.

GRS in the illustration stands for Great Red Spot, which is currently very pale pink.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

4 thoughts on “Possible bright impact seen on Jupiter

  1. I have question regarding i guess some publicity on weird sounds people are hearing in the skies…have u heard about them?? apparently all over and some are saying weird stuff..
    I was wondering if u were aware of it?? Being that ur eyes are always to the sky.

  2. Thank u that seemed the most believable story about it ive read…just heard alot about HAARP and people saying its that…so i had to ask…btw what is haarp and is it real or fiction?? Does it control the weather to cause disasasters? Im sure u have heard it all…thanks

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