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Astronomy

3rd August, 2009 by Daniel

I’m really enjoying NASA’s Astronony Picture of the Day at the moment. A nice guy called Jef Poskanzer has RSS’d it up for your favourite newsreader so you can bask in the glorious images each morning.


Friday‘s for example is a picture taken by Hubble of the comet or asteroid impact on Jupiter that appeared last week. Truly amazing when you think about it.

This sprawling dark marking is Jupiter’s latest impact scar,
a debris plume created as a small asteroid or comet disintegrated
after plunging into
the gas giant’s
atmosphere.

Located in Jupiter’s south polar region, the
new feature was discovered
by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19.

On July 23rd Wesley’s discovery was followed up by the Hubble Space
Telescope with its newly installed Wide Field Camera 3, creating
this sharpest view of the evolving debris plume.

Estimates indicate that the impacting object itself was several hundred
meters across.

Similar impact markings were created when
pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed
into Jupiter’s cloud bands in July of 1994.


One of the amazing things about this was that it wasn’t first spotted by professionals, but a guy in Australia called Anthony Wesley. He’s interviewed on Wired here. It’s quite inspiring, I know he’s hardly your average ‘amateur’ having built his own telescope and all but Astronomy is actually quite an open thing, the sky is there for anyone to look at.


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