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.
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.
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.