An apparent impact on Jupiter early Monday created a fireball on the planet so large and bright that amateur astronomers on Earth spotted the flash.
The surprising impact on Jupiter was first reported by amateur astronomer Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisc., who was observing the largest planet in our solar system when the event occurred, according to the website Spaceweather.com, which tracks space weather and night sky events.
"It was a bright flash that lasted only 1.5 – 2 seconds," Peterson told Spaceweather.com. Peterson used a Meade 12-inch LX200GPS telescope to observe the event, which occurred near the southern edge of Jupiter’s northern equatorial belt of clouds.
In a report posted on the Cloudy Nights forum, Peterson said it wasn’t clear if the impact would leave a scar on Jupiter much like those seen in 1994, when the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke into pieces and peppered the planet with debris, creating visible impact marks in Jovian cloud tops. It is also not yet known if the object to strike Jupiter was a small asteroid or comet.
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