Early last week, two amateur astronomers observing Jupiter reported a flash of light in the planet’s atmosphere. Dan Peterson in Wisconsin was doing some early morning visual observations of Jupiter when he saw a flash of white light in Jupiter’s atmosphere. Visual observations are nice, but luckily George Hall in Dallas caught the same flash on video. Together, these two observations indicate that an explosion had happened on Jupiter. We are actually lucky that Jupiter is located where it is in our solar system. Jupiter is like a giant gravity vacuum, sucking up a lot of the stray debris that roams the solar system before it can have any adverse affects on our planet.
Currently, no one knows what actually impacted Jupiter; current speculation is that it was a small asteroid, probably about 10 meters (about 30 feet) in diameter, releasing energy equal to about 10 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Using a modern, easily affordable telescope, you can observer Jupiter and other nearby planets and especially the moon and observe small meteors impacting the surface. A group at the Marshall Space Flight Center that has observed over 260 impacts since 2005 using 10”- 14” telescopes on the lunar surface.
You can see the video of the Jupiter impact here.
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I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +