Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Impact Flash on Jupiter

On August 20, 2010 a new optical flash has been observed on Jupiter. This is the third time in only 13 months that such events have been observed on the surface of this giant planet. Previous events occurred on July 19, 2009 and June 03, 2010. All these signs of impact have been recorded by amateur astronomers.

Masayuki Tachikawa, amateur astronomer from Japan, first reported his detection of the flash on August 20, 2010 at 18:22 UT with a Philips ToUcam Pro II attached to his 6-inch (150-mm) Takahashi TAO-150 f/7.3 refractor. Below you can see the detection image and the video showing the flash.

(Credit: Masayuki Tachikawa)

(Credit: Masayuki Tachikawa)

After the announcement by Tachikawa, another amateur astronomer from Japan, Aoki Kazuo, looking back at his Jupiter data taken independently, found what is the confirmation of the flash. In this case the two observers were separated by roughly 800 km, so Earth and its surrounding can be rule out as cause of the flash. These flashes are likely from meteors or small asteroid impact (~ less than 10 meters)

(Credit: Aoki Kazuo)

Like the event of June 03, this fireball did not produce any visible scar on the surface of Jupiter. (while the July 2009 event was detected just for the scar it left on Jupiter surface, due to a bigger impactor).

Thanks to their skill and new video cameras available on the market, amateur astronomers are now able to record short exposure videos necessary to detect these short-live events. It's now time to establish a worldwide network of telescopes to monitor Jupiter 24/7 to determine the current impact rate.

by Ernesto Guido

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