'); }
The bright spot on Uranus observed with Gemini

Observing Alert: Bright Spot On Uranus Reported

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

by

[/caption]

There’s nothing like a dynamic solar system… and right now another planet is being heard from. According to various sources, a bright spot – possibly a developing storm – has been spotted on Uranus.

“Professional observers this morning (October 27) reported a very bright cloud on Uranus, using the Gemini telescope, and need amateur confirmation if possible, to obtain a rotation period.” says John H. Rogers, Jupiter Section Director, British Astronomical Association. “Near-infrared filters may have the best chance of detecting it. It was recorded in the 1.6 micron band, which is further into the IR than amateurs can reach, but your usual near-IR filters might be successful. I think that methane filters are not especially promising, as these clouds on Uranus are overlaid by a methane-rich layer of atmosphere, but would be worth trying anyway. Anyone who has a 1-micron filter should have a go too.”

At this point in time, information is limited, but professional images taken using the 8.1-metre Gemini Telescope North on Hawaii have recorded a region said to be ten times brighter than the planetary background. The bright spot is believed to be attributed to methane ice. ““This is an H-band image, centered at 1.6 microns, close to the wavelength of maximum contrast for such features. Its contrast will decrease with decreasing wavelength, and will likely not be detectable by amateur astronomers, except possibly at the longer CCD wavelengths where the Rayleigh scattering background can be suppressed.” says Larry Sromovsky, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Looking with a methane band filters at 890 nm might be productive, especially if the feature continues to brighten.”

“The feature is not very large; instead its prominence is due to its high altitude, placing it above the intense absorption of methane in the deeper atmosphere. This is much higher than the 1.2-bar methane condensation level and thus it is expected to be predominantly composed of methane ice particles.”

Dr Sromovsky added: “The latitude of the feature is approximately 22.5° north planetocentric, which is a latitude nearly at rest with respect to the interior. So it should rotate around Uranus’ axis with nearly a 17.24-hour period. At the time of the image, the feature’s longitude was 351° West. That could change slowly in either direction.

“The low latitude is unusual. Previous exceptionally bright cloud features on Uranus were at close to 30° North, both in 1998 (Sromovsky et al. 2000, Icarus 146, 307-311) and in 2005 (Sromovsky et al. 2007, Icarus 192, 558-575). The 2005 feature oscillated ±1° about its mean latitude. The new feature might also oscillate in latitude, in which case its longitudinal drift rate might also vary with time.”

Hang in there, UT readers! Right now we have two of our best astrophotographers doing their best to give us an exclusive look! This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

Partial Quote Source: Skymania News Release.

'); }

,



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ciaran Ruane
Guest
October 28, 2011 9:01 PM

That’s a medical condition!

Tim McDaniel
Member
Tim McDaniel
October 28, 2011 9:32 PM

“Aw, man, I hate planetary zits. I mean, for everyone ELSE, they start up when you’re, oh, 1.3 billion years old, and then tail off around 2.2 billion … but ME? No. Outbreak after outbreak. I don’t *want* to be the Io of the outer system!”

mastercope
Member
mastercope
October 28, 2011 11:43 PM

Hey Ivan is that Uranus

Ivan3man_At_Large
Member
Ivan3man_At_Large
October 29, 2011 12:11 AM

If it looks like Uranus, then it is Uranus!

PhelanKA7
Member
PhelanKA7
October 28, 2011 11:56 PM

When I first saw this I instantly thought of the meteorite impacts on Jupiter… Are they positive this is an entirely weather related phenomenon?

SourceGPS
Guest
October 29, 2011 12:51 AM

I read the headline and I thought I might have to go to the doctor or something.

Ivan3man_At_Large
Member
Ivan3man_At_Large
October 28, 2011 10:23 PM

Right now we have two of our best astrophotographers doing their best to give us an exclusive look!

Here is one of them – Click Here.

postman1
Member
postman1
October 29, 2011 7:08 PM

Bright spots on Uranus overlaid by a methane-rich layer. Lord, please give me the strength to button my lip.
Thanks for another thought provoking article, Tammy. LOL

wpDiscuz