Emily LakdawallaApr 03, 2018

A new storm on Saturn!

Even during the Cassini mission, we relied on amateur astronomers to monitor the planet for new atmospheric activity. Cassini's gone, but amateurs are still serving that duty, building a long-term observational archive that professional scientists can draw on for their studies of the planet's meteorology. On March 29, vigilant astronomer Maciel Bassani Sparrenberger discovered that a new bright spot had broken out in Saturn's high northern latitudes.

Saturn on March 29, 2018: a new storm
Saturn on March 29, 2018: a new storm Amateur astronomer Maciel Bassani Sparrenberger photographed Saturn six months after the end of the Cassini mission and discovered a new, bright storm at about 65 degrees north latitude. Maciel Bassani Sparrenberger

Amateurs collaborate with professionals through the Planetary Virtual Observatory & Laboratory (PVOL), coordinated by Augustin Sanchez-Lavega. Augustin posted an urgent request to the PVOL homepage on Saturday, asking amateurs to turn their 'scopes to Saturn to monitor the storm's development. There have been lots of contributions by amateurs worldwide since then, which you can find through the PVOL search form. But I'll admit I do not visit the PVOL page on a daily basis, so my first news of the new storm came in an email from Damian Peach with his lovely photo:

Saturn on April 1, 2018: New storm
Saturn on April 1, 2018: New storm Following the discovery of a new storm on Saturn on March 29, Damian Peach imaged it in high resolution. D. Peach/Chilescope team

It'll be fun to watch to see if this storm persists or changes, or if it fizzles out!

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