Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jupiter eschews double belts--planetary fashion world rocked!

Copied straight out of Astro Bob's awesome blog. The southern equatorial belt is pretty much gone. Apparently, this happens on a cycle. AND quickly. I had NO idea. Also, there's cool time lapse video at Bob's blog so you can see Jupiter clouds spinning and swirling (in different directions!). Fascinating.

"Look at the dramatic change in the planet from less than a year ago. The South Equatorial Belt (SEB) has faded away leaving just the north belt (NEB) viewable in small telescopes. Credit: Anthony Wesley

"So here's the surprise. That bad boy south equatorial belt (SEB) has completely faded away. Point your scope at the planet any morning soon and you'll see only one obvious dark stripe, the North Equatorial Belt....

"Every 3-15 years, the belt, which is normally dark reddish-brown in color and typically divided in two by the south equatorial belt zone, fades from view.

"When the South Equatorial Belt fades, the Great Red Spot, here seen at the planet's left edge, usually becomes darker and more prominent. Credit: Anthony Wesley

"... the changes are dramatic enough to see their evolution night by night... To find Jupiter, go out about an hour before sunrise and look a fist or two above the horizon in the east-southeastern sky. It's the only bright 'star' you'll see there."

Sounds like a plan! Thanks Bob! Anyone from Duluth, MN, is a-okay in my book. And thanks to my SIL for the planetary heads up.


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