Jupiter's outbreak is spreading
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
22-11-2010 11:03 CST
Jupiter, always a pretty sight in the sky, is now worth visiting every day; the "outbreak" that heralds the return of Jupiter's formerly red, now faded south equatorial belt is expanding and multiplying. I'm no astronomer myself, so I look over the shoulders of amateurs to watch all of this action unfold. Here's one recent photo showing the outbreak at 20:08 UT on November 20. It appears as a series of dark comma-like structures in the south equatorial belt; the south pole is up in this image.
Here's a fun animation of different amateurs' images of the development of the outbreak over a period of 12 days. It starts as a single point, but seems to throw off a curl of dark cloud and generate a new bright cloud twice.
Meanwhile, the opposite face of Jupiter is nearly as exciting, with white ovals, red storms, and all kinds of other stuff going on. I have no idea what that discontinuous line of red blobs is to the north of the North Equatorial Belt (at the bottom left of this image). I invite knowledgeable readers to comment and explain!
Clearly there's going to be a lot more action on Jupiter this week; which is of course when I will be traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving. If you'd like to watch it unfold, blogger Daniel Fischer and astronomer Leigh Fletcher both have informative Tweets on Jupiter's status. Daniel just posted a blog entry rounding up numerous recent Jupiter photos (which is how I found that nifty animation by Christopher Go), and Leigh has reported recently that both Gemini north and south telescopes as well as the VLT have successfully acquired infrared maps of the action. Stay tuned for developments!