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Old 05-13-2010, 05:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Jupiter is missing a case of Red Stripe

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Jupiter loses one of its stripes and scientists have no idea why | Mail Online

Jupiter loses one of its stripes and scientists are stumped as to why
By Claire Bates
Last updated at 11:40 PM on 12th May 2010
Jupiter has lost one of its iconic red stripes and scientists are baffled as to why.

The largest planet in our solar system is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere, with one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

However, the most recent images taken by amateur astronomers have revealed the lower stripe known as the Southern Equatorial Belt has disappeared leaving the southern half of the planet looking unusually bare.
The band was present in at the end of last year before Jupiter ducked behind the Sun on its orbit. However, when it emerged three months later the belt had disappeared.


Jupiter was pictured this month (left) looking unusually bare, compared to July 2009 (right).

It has lost its dark red Southern Equatorial Belt although scientists are unclear as to why. The pictures have different tones because they were snapped a year apart.

Journalist and amateur astronomer Bob King, also known as Astro_Bob, was one of the first to note the strange phenomenon.

He said: 'Jupiter with only one belt is almost like seeing Saturn when its rings are edge-on and invisible for a time - it just doesn't look right.'

It is not the first time this unusual phenomenon has been noticed. Jupiter loses or regains one of its belts every ten of 15 years, although exactly why this happens is a mystery.

The planet is a giant ball of gas and liquid around 500million miles from the Sun. It's surface is composed of dense red, brown, yellow, and white clouds arranged in light-coloured areas called zones and darker regions called belts.

These clouds are created by chemicals that have formed at different heights. The highest white clouds in the zones are made of crystals of frozen ammonia. Darker, lower clouds are created from chemicals including sulphur and phosphorus. The clouds are blown into bands by 350mph winds caused by Jupiter's rapid rotation.

Noted Jupiter watcher Anthony Wesley, who spotted an impact spot on its surface last year, has tracked the disappearing belt from his back garden in Australia.

'It was obvious last year that it was fading. It was closely observed by anyone watching Jupiter,' he told The Planetary Society.

'There was a big rush on to find out what had changed once it came back into view.'

Mr Wesley said while it was a mystery as to what had caused the belt to fade, the most likely explanation was that it was linked to storm activity that preceded the change.

'The question now is when will the South Equatorial belt erupt back into activity and reappear?' Mr Wesley said.

The pattern for this happening is when a brilliant white spot forms in the southern zone. Gradually it will start to spout dark blobs of material which will be stretched by Jupiter's fierce winds into a new belt, and the planet will return to its familiar 'tyre track' appearance.

Jupiter will be closest to Earth on September 24, offering stargazers their best chance of seeing it without its stripe.
Did World's King and Giant Hamburger finally meet up for an intergalactic kegger?
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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That's fascinating. What I find so cool about astronomy is the active role hobbyists and amateurs can play in advancing science, as this article shows. It's relatively easy (not necessarily cheap) to set up a backyard telescope and start stargazing.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I can be very cheap to look at Jupiter. If you go the cheap route, though, you might not be seeing the stripes very well. Even during last years Jupiter opposition, I was unable to make out anything on Jupiter. My telescopes allowed me to see the Galilean moons well, but not stripes and spots. I have a retractor and a reflector, and it was about the same for both. They were each under $200, so not very large. I can't remember the specs on them right now.

I could just suck at this. Actually, I'm pretty sure of it. Any hints for seeing these stripes?
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Old 05-13-2010, 09:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Has it been 15 years since the last ring has vanished? I think the only way they are going to figure out why or how it vanishes is if NASA or someone else decides to build a machine that can travel to Jupiter and make observations.
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Old 05-13-2010, 09:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great find, warrreagl.
It doesn't look like Jupiter serves red stripe. They brew their own Red Spot, but I haven't tried it.

It looks funny without that lower stripe. It must be crazy living someplace with so little light pollution that you'd be able to see Jupiter with a basic hobby telescope.
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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genuinegirly - Maybe you mean with enough clarity to distinguish features like stripes and spots, but unless you live on Coruscant you should be able to see Mercury, Saturn, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter with just your eyes.

Mercury and Venus are more difficult because their proximity to the sun. Right now Venus is very bright early evening in the west. Mars is high in the sky early dark, currently, and just looks like a bright star with a red tint.
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't want to start a thread and those that will find this thread interesting will find this link interesting too.
Also I'm too lazy to edit that sentence.

File:McMoon - 48,000 lbs of 70mm tape.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Great find, warrreagl.
It doesn't look like Jupiter serves red stripe. They brew their own Red Spot, but I haven't tried it.

It looks funny without that lower stripe. It must be crazy living someplace with so little light pollution that you'd be able to see Jupiter with a basic hobby telescope.
With a basic hobby telescope you should be able to find Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury and Mars from just about anywhere you may have to drive a small distance if you happen to live in the middle of a VERY bright area of a city. It is entirely possible to look at Venus in the middle of the day (quite a few people do) if you're careful and know where to find it. The planets are just that bright.
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't want to start a thread and those that will find this thread interesting will find this link interesting too.
Also I'm too lazy to edit that sentence.

File:McMoon - 48,000 lbs of 70mm tape.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

that is really cool, i'm going to have to google that a bit more



The jupiter thing is pretty wild, kinda scary to see how quickly a planet can change... earth has been pretty stable for us so far!
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Jupiter has been pantsed.

pwned.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well that is mighty odd isn't it? Not having an incredibly firm grasp of astronomy I wonder how long have we been able to observe clear enough pictures of Jupiter to get an understanding of the common features and when and how they change. In other words are these century long storms that eventually fade or is there just so much activity in the atmosphere that storms just can't run out of steam? It makes me wonder if at some point the famous red spot wasn't there and/or if at some point that might disappear too. Wild.

Astronomy is fascinating to me, I really wish I had more time to study it.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I wish I had a 'scope, or even my binocs back. I love looking at a full moon. (nobody mention Fly, please)
We have a cleared field back of our house that would be a perfect spot to set up a 'scope.

The ring disappearing is interesting. They mention an impact spot.
A big enough impact could've affected the atmosphere, like the one that they theorize destroyed the dinosaurs here.
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Old 05-13-2010, 04:13 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by genuinegirly View Post
Great find, warrreagl.
It doesn't look like Jupiter serves red stripe. They brew their own Red Spot, but I haven't tried it.

It looks funny without that lower stripe. It must be crazy living someplace with so little light pollution that you'd be able to see Jupiter with a basic hobby telescope.
gg, I'm actually really surprised to hear this from you, considering where you live now. Just drive 10 minutes outside of Oxford (not in the direction of Hamilton) and you'll find many places where the stargazing is excellent. Especially in Preble County or rural Indiana.
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Old 05-13-2010, 04:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sure, Pony... the two days out of the year when it's not cloudy, rainy, or overcast...
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Old 05-13-2010, 04:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Sure, Pony... the two days out of the year when it's not cloudy, rainy, or overcast...
Have you even spent a summer here yet?

There is plenty of stargazing to be had. Spring is notorious for rain.. that's why you see so many successful crops farmed without irrigation!

You will get plenty of clear nights! I have had a handful already, and the skies are usually very clear in the winter, too, if you can bundle up enough to handle the cold.
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Old 05-13-2010, 05:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I guess I have something to look forward to, then.
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Old 05-14-2010, 01:55 PM   #17 (permalink)
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...It can't be the day our gas giants examine their makeup.
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Old 05-14-2010, 04:22 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Turbulent flow in rotating spheres is fascinating, from the little I've read in relation to modeling deterministic systems in chaos theory. It doesn't surprise me all that much that we see drastic changes from time to time, although I'd really like to know exactly what combination of factors caused it. When computing power got to the point that this kind of system could be modeled, some of the flows in systems with combinations of fluids of varying densities formed their own spots, much like the great red spot, and lines around the surface formed and dissipated. I can't remember the paper that came up with the simulated red spot, and I'm not at work so I can't browse for it right now, but I'll try to find it next week.
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:25 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I wonder if it disappeared all at once or if it faded away mysteriously

also MSD that sounds like some super interesting work you do
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:19 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Wes Mantooth View Post
Astronomy is fascinating to me, I really wish I had more time to study it.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronomer. Then I found out that in college, you don't major in astronomy; you major in physics. And, just like with psychology, the first two degrees won't get you squat - without a PhD, your only option is to teach high school physics. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . .

And, of course, there's that pesky working the graveyard shift thing.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:11 PM   #21 (permalink)
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When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronomer. Then I found out that in college, you don't major in astronomy; you major in physics. And, just like with psychology, the first two degrees won't get you squat - without a PhD, your only option is to teach high school physics. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . .
Or you could follow the path of Milton Humason, who worked his way up from janitor at Mount Wilson Observatory to being one of the guys who discovered the evidence of The Big Bang - all because he hung around astronomers and asked lots of questions.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:26 AM   #22 (permalink)
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When I was in High School I was able to just see Jupiter's red stripes with a 4.5" reflector telescope (I forget which eyepiece I was using, I suspect the lower power one as it had a wider field of vision). The Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, & Callisto) looked like bright points of light. Saturn was way prettier, too pretty to have a masculine name. (makes me wonder what the Romans would have named that planet if they had telescopes)
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:35 PM   #23 (permalink)
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so Jupiter sez, "Thank God my hemorrhoids are back!"
Saturn sez, "Speak for yourself."
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:43 PM   #24 (permalink)
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so Jupiter sez, "Thank God my hemorrhoids are back!"
Saturn sez, "Speak for yourself."
What about Uranus?
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:08 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Go figure. Watch the planet.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:51 PM   #26 (permalink)
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also MSD that sounds like some super interesting work you do
My job is exceedingly boring, but working for a university comes with free JSTOR access, which allows me to read things that interest me.
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:32 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Jupiter's Belt, Believed Missing Last Month, Has Been Found (Sort Of) | Popular Science

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Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope think they’ve found Jupiter’s missing cloud belt, hiding out behind a layer of ammonia clouds.

They also think they can explain the bright flash seen from Earth earlier this month: it was a meteor, though a small one that didn’t get very far.
The clouds that comprise the Southern Equatorial Belt were gone when Jupiter emerged from its hiding place behind the sun last month. Astronomers say they’re simply being obscured by white clouds of ammonia ice, which float at higher altitudes than the belt’s prominent brown clouds.

“Weather forecast for Jupiter’s Southern Equatorial Belt: cloudy with a chance of ammonia,” planetary scientist Heidi Hammel of the Space
Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said Wednesday, according to Wired.

Images taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 on June 7 found the white clouds, which should clear out in the next couple months, restoring Jupiter to its familiar striped state.

The images were taken a few days after an amateur astronomer noticed a bright flash on the planet, indicating something had crashed into it. It takes a big object to shine brightly enough to be seen from Earth, about 480 million miles away. Now astronomers think it was a meteor that burned up high in the atmosphere.

The new Hubble images show no dark debris plume, which would have been present if the object exploded. That’s been observed twice before, when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter in July 1994, and when a large asteroid smacked the planet last summer.
Phew. I was worried there for a while.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:20 PM   #28 (permalink)
 
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Fascinating stuff.I was actually considering buying my wife a star. (yes I realize it's all a sham) and then buying her a telescope for an occasion. That'd be a cool date I think. Telescope on a mountain finding her star. I remember reading tons of stuff about astronomy and being obsessed with that as a kid. That, and dinosaurs...
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