Random Thoughts

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Jupiter Impact

Earlier today Australian astronomer Anthony Wesley reported a new impact site on Jupiter just as the sun was rising at his location. His image can be seen on his webpage. The time stamp on the image is Universal Time (UT). Renowned amateur observer Christopher Go has also captured a short video of the event which can be viewed on his site. There has not yet been a confirmation that there are leftover signs of the impact but observers are gearing up to try. To do this we need to know when the impact site is visible, according to Christopher Go the event occured at longitude 343 (System II). With this information we can calculate future observation opportunities:

6/4 5:04 15:00
6/5 0:56 10:52 20:47
6/6 6:43 16:39
6/7 2:35 12:30

All of the times in the table are transit times (UT). Practically the impact site is visible for a couple of hours on either side of the listed times. Unfortunately this does not work out well for viewing from my location in California - the time here is UT-7 hours so this gives the following local times for the transit:

6/3 10:04pm
6/4 8:00am 5:56pm
6/5 3:52am 1:47pm 11:43pm
6/6 9:39am 7:35pm
6/7 5:30am

The first opportunity at 10:04pm tonight (6/3) will not work because although the event is facing us Jupiter does not rise until 2 am and so is below the horizon! The following morning (6/4) the impact site will be visible from ~6am onwards and Jupiter will be high in the sky but the sun will have risen and be too bright. The first real chance is not until the morning of 6/5 from ~2am onwards as Jupiter is rising. This may be too long after the event for anything to continue to be visible.