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Posts Tagged ‘Hubble’

Let’s face it, I really am not a planetary observer – I’m what you might call a tourist – one of those who drops by and goes “ooh” and “ahh” and then moves on.

And that’s how it was with Jupiter on Monday morning, July 20, right after an alert Australian amateur spotted a huge new scar on Jupiter probably caused by a collision with a comet. I think of it as a black eye and except for the fox I might have seen it, but I doubt it. Heck, if I’m honest with myself I might have seen it anyway and just didn’t know what I was seeing!

My little adventure began at 2:30 am when I was enjoying the special solitude of my observatory and was observing Jupiter because, although low in the south, it was just passing through a large gap in the trees that usually would mask anything in that area of the sky. All four moons were visible and I noted how each showed a tiny disc, but Ganymeade’s disc was bigger, as it should be. I could see more detail than usual on the planet and I looked for the Great Red Spot, but didn’t see it.  Also I looked for Neptune, which is very near Jupiter right now, and then I suddenly heard  barking. Just a single bark or two at a time, but quite chilling at that hour from someone with an active imagination – and given my poor hearing – very unusual – so it meant whatever was doing it was very close.

I got up from the scope, grabbed my bright flashlight, and climbed the little ladder so I could look out the open shutter  of the observatory and see around the yard.  My light picked up a pair of bright, gleaming eyes about 50 feet away. He/she barked gain. Then he trotted right toward me – well , in my general direction. That was surprising. I had always assumed that if a fox – or much worse, a coyote – came near me and I caught it in the light it would run away! I kept the light on him and when he got about 25-feet away, he broke into a trot. Then  he started in an easy run and vanished to the other side of the observatory – but I heard him again several times. As near as i can tell, his barks were a mating call and I suspect someone with better hearing would have heard another fox in the distance.

So that was my highlight of observing Jupiter!

It wasn’t until I got in an saw the message from Dom that directed me to a news story about the discovery Sunday night of this new spot on Jupiter. I might have seen this spot they’re mentioning, but I didn’t make note of it. I did not attempt any drawings and I don’t know Jupiter well enough so that if I had seen it, I’m not at all sure I would have thought it was unusual. In other words, I’m perfectly capable of looking at something important on Jupiter and not even knowing that it is important without someone else telling me. So the fox was an exciting distraction, but I won’t blame it for my not seeing this new spot. 😉

Now untold thousands have seen it – but I have been clouded out all week – and even the Hubble Space telescope has gotten intot he act, as this NYT story shows.

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