Can You Spot the “New Spot”?

With Jupiter now rising early enough to observe before heading to bed, why not take a moment to see if you can spot its newest feature!

Exactly fifteen years to the month that Comet Shoemaker-Levy slammed into Jupiter, JPL has announced the findings of what appears to be yet another impact event – and the scar is easily within visible telescopic, possibly even larger binoculars, range.  The key to seeing it, of course, will be in the timing of your observations.

Looking at this optical discovery image, acquired by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19, and posted on the Universe Today website later that same day, you can see a distinct smudge in Jupiter’s southern region (image orientation is South up).  Note that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not visible in the image.  However, in this infared follow-up image, acquired by Keck II, you can see that the Great Red Spot is actually just around the corner.

Armed with this information and GRS transit times, you can plan optimal viewing sessions to witness, first-hand, the effects of a seemingly-rare and exciting event!  So go ahead – make yourself comfortable under the night sky, and spend a little time with our solar system’s largest, and possibly most-intriguing, planet.  And if you do “spot the new spot” through binoculars, please share your findings in the comments section of this blog!

If you ‘d like to read more about this possible impact event, check out Frank Marchis‘ post on the Cosmic Diary – a cornerstone project of the IYA 2009.