Observe the Jupiter Impact Site!

by Tammy Plotner on July 29, 2009

July 28, 2009 Jupiter Impact Site by John Chumack

July 28, 2009 Jupiter Impact Site by John Chumack

Have you stayed up late and observed the Jupiter impact site? Then don’t be goofing around. Not since July 16-22, 1994 when comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter’s southern hemisphere have amateur astronomers had the opportunity to witness history firsthand! What makes me think that you can do it? Because I have…

Not only have cameras been clicking around the world, but they’ve been rolling, too.. Let’s take a look at one from John Chumack!

These images were done from his backyard Observatory in Dayton, Ohio USA, using A DMK 21F04 Fire-wire Camera and 2x Barlow, Optec Filter Wheel, attached to a Meade 10″ SCT scope. Captured images starting about 2:00 am and ran until 4:30 am E.ST. on 07-28-09. Basically 2.5 hours of rotation compressed to about 10 seconds. Way to go, John!!

If you think you have to be a professional, then think again. Even with less than perfect sky conditions, the impact site is very noticeable in a telescope as small as 4.5″ on a swimmy horizon and just gets better and easier to see as it reaches meridian and Jupiter reaches better sky position. DO NOT wait on the perfect night and the perfect time – because it just might not happen.

Another reason for my observations was to see just how close my predictions were… and without using a computer program? Hey… The old girl still has got it. Get thee out there on these Universal dates and times! July 29, 4:14, 14:20 and 23:59; July 30, 10:01 and 19:56; July 31, 5:52 and 15:48. For August 1, 01:43, 11:39, 21:34; August 2, 7:32 and 17:25; August 3, 3:23, 13:17 and 23:12; August 4, 9:08 and 19:03; August 5, 4:59 and 14:54; August 6, 0:50, 10:46 and 20:41; August 7, 6:37 and 16:32; August 8, 2:28, 12:24 and 22:18; August 9, 8:15 and 18:20; August 10, 4:06, 14:01, 23:57; August 11, 9:53 and 19:48; August 12, 5:42 and 15:39; August 13, 01:35, 11:31 and 21:26; August 14, 7:22 and 17:17; August 15, 3:13, 13:08, 23:04. I might be off by a few minutes, but I’m not that far off.

Take your time and do not just glance at Jupiter and think it’s not there at the predicted time – because it is. The charcoal gray oval is big enough and dark enough to stand out against the wash of the southern hemisphere, but sometimes you have to wait on a moment of clarity to see it. Try using a variety of color filters, but instead of installing them in the eyepiece, use the “blink” method. Hold the filter by the cell and simply set it on the eyepiece while you look through it, then take it off and look again. Once you see the mushroom cloud, you can’t “un-see” it.

History is waiting on you… Carpe noctem, baby!

Many, many thanks to John Chumack of Galactic Images for sharing this wonderful capture of what I was looking at last night and allowing me to adjust his original image to highlight the impact region!

About 

Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: