Megascopes Watch Jupiter’s Black Eye

Written by The Night Sky Guy on July 22, 2009 – 9:35 pm -

This infrared image taken with Keck II shows the new feature observed on Jupiter and its relative size compared to Earth.

This infrared image taken with Keck II shows the new feature observed on Jupiter and its relative size compared to Earth.

Major observatories on the ground and in space are clamoring to get closeup views of the new impact on Jupiter that was first detected by an accomplished backyard astronomer in Australia on Monday (see earlier blog entry).  NASA scientists are hoping to get Hubble Space Telescope’s eye trained on the dark scar in Jupiter’s atmosphere late Wednesday and reports say that images may be released before the end of this week. Meantime the world’s largest monster-sized telescope – The Keck observatory, with its 10 meter diameter mirror, took a snapshot of the planet’s new bruise late Monday. Check out this amazing photo taken by Keck in the infrared.

In a NY Times report yesterday a Berkeley astronomer was quoted as saying that, “the shape of the debris splash as revealed in the Keck images suggested that whatever hit Jupiter might have been pulled apart by tidal forces from the planet’s huge gravity before it hit. In an e-mail message, he said humans should be thankful for Jupiter.

“The solar system would have been a very dangerous place if we did not have Jupiter,” he wrote. “We should thank our giant planet for suffering for us. Its strong gravitational field is acting like a shield protecting us from comets coming from the outer part of the solar system.”


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