Jupiter is without doubt the most dynamic planet for amateur astronomers. From night to night, its appearance in backyard telescopes changes at an amazing rate, and as if to emphasize the point, Jupiter currently is undergoing a historic event.
John McAnally, assistant coordinator of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers Jupiter section (ALPO), issued an alert today to encourage amateurs to observe the activity taking place near the Great Red Spot (GRS), located in the south edge of Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt, one of the two conspicuous cloud bands girdling the planet.
For 60 years, three large ovals persisted in the South Temperate Belt. Now the last of the three, designated BA, appears to be on a collision course with the Great Red Spot. Observers favored with steady seeing conditions and clear skies will have a ringside seat for this rare event. But, more than this, amateur observations may also provide insight into the dynamics of Jupiter's cloud belts. Says McAnally, "Astronomers are asked to make special efforts to observe this GRS/BA interaction so that a complete sequence of events can be constructed to characterize the behavior of the winds, jet stream, and other atmospheric conditions surrounding this interaction — data that would be of great value."
Amateurs are requested to visit the ALPO Jupiter section for instructions on how to submit their observations.