Massive impact on Jupiter seen from Earth

Sep 12, 2012

Sometimes interesting discoveries in space are made by amateur astronomers rather than scientists at NASA and other organizations around the world. This is exactly what happened this week when amateur astronomer George Hall captured image of what appears to be some sort of massive impact on the surface of Jupiter. Hall was recording video observations of the planet with his telescope on September 10 from Dallas, Texas.

The massive impact on the surface of Jupiter created a fireball on the planet's surface so large and bright that Hall was able to see the flash using his telescope on Earth. Hall wasn't the only amateur astronomer to make note of the giant flash. Another amateur astronomer named Dan Peterson from Racine, Wisconsin first reported the impact.

Peterson was also observing Jupiter using a telescope during the impact. Peterson described the flash, "It was a bright flash that lasted only 1.5-2 seconds." Peterson was using a 12-inch Meade LX 200 GPS telescope. The bright flash occurred near the southern edge of Jupiter's northern equatorial belt of clouds according to

At this time, it's unclear if a comet strike or an asteroid caused the bright flash. It's also unclear if the impact was large enough to leave a mark on Jupiter's heavy cloud cover as the major impacts by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 did in 1994 when it impacted the planet. The video you see below was recorded by Hall using a 12-inch LX200GPS telescope with a 3X Televue Barlow and Point Grey Flea 3 camera.


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