And then there were 3: Jupiter’s trio of red spots

When I saw this new press release, my first thought was “Good lord, there’s another one.” This response was loaded with about the same emotional energy I give sparrows in the attic. Sure, I love wild birds, but sometimes (like when they come into the house), I’m just not sure how to react other then to get a box and take them back outside. Red spots on Jupiter are quite cool – who doesn’t like a hurricane that can’t harm humans? – but I don’t know what causes them, and I have no idea why they are suddenly breeding like rabbits elephants, and I know I’m going to get bombarded with questions the next time I’m at a star party (which is June 21 and then again June 28). I like questions. I like red spots. I’d like a planetary scientist to explain all my questions about the red spots in a nice friendly publication. Is that too much to ask? (While they’re at it, can they also tell me how the sparrows keep getting in the attic?)

Here’s the news in brief:

On May 9/10 the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a new red spot on Jupiter. (It is the smallest of the three in the HST image above). The Red Spot Junior (the middle sized, bottom-most spot) was first seen in the spring of 2006. It appears that Jupiter is undergoing climate change. Kind of cool, kind of weird, and really enigmatic.

1 spot to captivate Robert Hooke around 1664 (I think he saw it – please correct me if I’m wrong)

1 spot to give glory to amateurs in 2006.

1 spot to get Jupiter accused of having the measles in 2008.

And then there were three…

(Apologies for the new ads in the feed. I’d seen a revenue drop. If you whine or donate, I’ll make them go away.)

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4 Comments

  1. Daniel Fischer May 22, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    No, Hubble was not the first to spot the 3rd Red Spot: It’s been around longer and can e.g. be seen together with the other two in this German amateur video from late April, shot through a methane band filter highlighting high clouds.

  2. pamela May 22, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Daniel – I never said Hubble was the first, just that it was new and they had a press release. As near as I can tell, prior info didn’t indicate color or identified it as a white oval (and in the video you show, color can’t be determined). That said, there is a lot of vagueness on the who, what, when and why Hubble was looking.

  3. Daniel Fischer May 23, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    In any case the role of amateur astronomers in tracking the current storm activity was acknowledged in related UCB and Keck Press Releases – as far as I remember this is the first time that major institutions quote Hubble, a huge ground-based scope and an amateur network in the same press release. To me, this is the real news here …

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  1. Seeing Spots | Orbiting Frog - May 23, 2008

    […] Star Stryder, and Hubble: there are now three red spots on Jupiter! I shan’t harp on about it, but rather […]

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