An enormous fireball is something to shout about, especially when that fireball is large enough to be witnessed from hundreds of millions of miles away. Amateur astronomers watching Jupiter last Monday (10 September) were treated to a two-second explosion when an object appeared to collide with the gas giant.
News of the impact spread quickly over the internet, prompting Texan George Hall to look over footage he had collected during the hours of darkness. He had indeed captured a video of the explosion, which occured at 6.35 am local time. This is the fourth time an object has been seen striking Jupiter since July 2009, when casual observers noticed a scar on the planet’s cloud tops the size of the Pacific Ocean.
Modern digital imaging, as well as the efficiency of social networking, has given isolated enthusiasts the chance to report remarkable events occurring in the night sky. Dan Peterson, the first person to report the event, expressed excitement at his observations becoming a part of astronomical records. "My best guess is that it was a small undetected comet that is now history," he wrote. “Hopefully it will sign its name on Jupiter’s cloud tops.”
By Sacha Torregrosa-Jones