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June 6th, 2010 at 7:21 am

Amateur Astronomers Capture Collision on Jupiter

Jupiter collision

This image shows an amateur astronomer’s view of Jupiter Thursday June 3, 2010.

The stargazers witnessed the brilliant flash from the cosmic collision from sites in Australia and the Philippines on Friday.  Anthony Wesley, an Australian computer programmer, first noticed the collision in Jupiter’s cloud tops and notified other astronomers. (video)

 

Christopher Go, another amateur astronomer from the Philippines, then independently photographed and videoed Friday’s incident.

Experts said the amazing impact was either a comet or an asteroid.

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“When I saw the flash, I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Wesley, who is well respected in the astronomy field.

“The fireball lasted about 2 seconds and was very bright.

“There were no visible remains at the impact point for the next half hour or so, until sunrise put an end to the imaging.”

Mr Go added: “I still can’t believe that I caught a live impact on Jupiter,”

Their discovery came after Nasa scientists disclosed that they had had solved the mystery behind a strange “bruise” on Jupiter.

Using an infrared telescope on Hawaii, Nasa scientists found evidence that Jupiter was apparently struck near its south pole, and credited Wesley.

Mr Wesley, from Broken Hill, in central Australia, first spotted the scar the size of the Pacific Ocean that was left near Jupiter’s south pole last year.

Using an infrared telescope on Hawaii, NASA scientists found evidence that Jupiter was struck, crediting Mr Wesley.

Follow-up observations made with the Hubble space telescope suggested it was made by an asteroid with a force equivalent to a few thousand nuclear bombs.

Hubble is certain to be switched from other duties again to photograph Jupiter and give professional astronomers as much information as possible about the new collision.

The latest hit near the equator has not left any visible mark so far, but astronomers are on the lookout.

The absence of a detectable “gash”, and the short impact time, has led scientists to believe Jupiter was likely struck by a meteor.

“We’ve never seen a meteor slam into Jupiter,” said Glenn Orton of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

With these impacts now apparently less rare than once imagined, astronomers will also be re-examining observations of light and dark spots on Jupiter in historical records.

In 1686, Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini noted a dark spot on Jupiter that was about the same size as the largest bruise seen after Comet Shoemaker-Levy hit the planet in 1994.

A British Astronomer Royal, George Airy, saw another dark spot that recorded as being nearly four times bigger than shadows cast by Jupiter’s main Galilean moons.

Via Telegraph

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