Emily Lakdawalla • Apr 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.
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:
It'll be fun to watch to see if this storm persists or changes, or if it fizzles out!
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