Friday, December 17, 2010

Much ado about gas

Gas giants, that is, specifically Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter is that bright starlike point of light in the south/southwest sky in the evening while Saturn sits unassuming above the mucho brighter Venus in the morning. And we have astrophotographer Christopher Go to thank for the latest images. Just follow his links.

In short, Jupiter, which has been missing its south equatorial belt (SEB) since the planet came out from behind the sun earlier this spring is getting it back again. About a month ago, he recorded a bright spot that is long known as a precursor to a revival of the SEB. The revival has continued on pretty much following the same old script! Chris has recorded dark material now girdling the planet where the SEB should be.

In addition, Saturn has shown its spots. Well, one spot. But the planet, now a morning object, is as prone as Jupiter to great storms but they are often more subtle and difficult to spot. However, Go says he recorded a white spot (which is also a source of radio noise) and even spotted it visually!

Stay tuned! I'm sure these two powerhouse planets are far from finished with their amazing sky show!

Clear skies!

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