About a week ago, a bright white storm emerged on Saturn’s northern hemisphere, and amateur astronomer/planet astrophotographer extraordinaire Anthony Wesley from Australia has captured a few images of it. “This is the brightest Saturn storm in decades,” Anthony said on his website, Ice In Space. “If you get a chance to see it visually then take it, as it may be one of the rare “Great White Spot” (GWS) outbreaks on Saturn.”
Great White Spots, or Great White Ovals occur periodically on Saturn, and are usually large enough to be visible by telescope from Earth by their characteristic white appearance. The spots can be several thousands of kilometers wide.
Anthony joked that the outburst on Saturn might happening because the planet getting a little jealous that Jupiter has been getting lately with the reappearance of the Southern Equatorial Belt.
See a few more images from Anthony below.
This infrared view shows a hint of structure in the outline of the storm. “There seems to be an extension developing to the southeast,” Anthony pointed out. Rhea is also visible in the image.
In the above image, the storm doesn’t show up. “Interestingly the CH4 (methane) image doesn’t show the storm at all,” Anthony said. “I’m not sure if this is simply because CH4 is not useful on Saturn (maybe these storms are too low in the atmosphere to get any return?)”
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.