I just had to get up for a look. Any dark spot on Jupiter from Monday’s potential impact was straight up in view at 4:15 a.m. Before the neighborhood rooster crowed, I had the 10-inch reflector pointed at Jupiter. The air was fluttery and unsteady but there were occasional moments when the planet sharpened up for a clear view at 212x. Nothing obvious was visible, nor has there been a “spot sighting” by other observers either visually through a telescope or by camera. That doesn’t mean an impact didn’t happen; maybe the scar hasn’t grown big enough to see yet.
George Hall’s 4-second video clip shows a clear rise to peak brightness followed by a quick fade. It really does look like Jupiter got hit. One thing you’ll notice is that the flash happens further south of the dark North Equatorial Belt in broad, pale zone astronomers call the Equatorial Zone (EZ). My guess is that the position of the possible impact will be revised.
There will be lots of eyes and telescopes pointed at the planet in the coming days and weeks. Hopefully we’ll know one way or another soon. Below is a short list of times (CDT) when the “impact zone” will be face on and most easily viewed in a telescope. The times are Universal Time, so remember to subtract 5 hours for Central Daylight time, 4 for Eastern, 6 for Mountain and 7 for Pacific:
Sept.11 – 19:00
Sept.12 — 04:51
Sept.12 — 14:41
Sept.13 — 00:32
Sept.13 — 10:22
Sept.13 — 20:13
Sept.14 — 06:03
OK, so Jupiter’s pretty cool right now. Let’s not forget there’s a nice conjunction of the crescent moon and Venus tomorrow morning at dawn. The two won’t approach the snugness of the Jupiter-moon pairing a few days ago but will still be a beautiful sight before sunrise. They’ll be about 4 degrees apart for Midwestern viewers. Closest approach happens in daylight for the U.S. at 10 a.m. (CDT). Venus will then be 3.6 degrees due north of the crescent.
Once again, if you can spot the moon high in the southern sky around that time, binoculars will easily show Venus. Through a small telescope Venus looks like a miniature version of the last quarter moon.