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Monday, 24 May 2010

[BAA 00496] Jupiter reappears without one of its major belts

BAA electronic bulletin No. 00496   

Jupiter reappears without one of its major belts

Now that Jupiter is rising in the dawn skies, it looks very different from its
familiar appearance.  The South Equatorial Belt has almost completely
disappeared, and is now perceptible in images only as faint yellowish and
bluish bands.  Meanwhile the Great Red Spot has intensified to become an
isolated orange oval, surrounded by a bright white 'moat' (at longitude
L2=148). These changes began last year, and have proceeded as predicted.  This
type of 'SEB fading' last occurred in 2007, but this year it has proceeded
much further so the belt has almost disappeared, as last seen in 1990 and
1993.  The revival of the belt will occur in a spectacular outburst of storms
and vortices, as it always does, and this could start at any time this year or
next.  So observers are urged to keep watching the planet, especially looking
for any new bright or dark spot in the SEB. The North Equatorial Belt is in
the opposite phase of its cycle: Last year a 'NEB broadening event' began, and
this has now been completed, so the belt extends substantially further north
than before.  Within it are a bright oval (the long-lived white spot Z, at
L2=115), adjacent to a dark brown oval ('barge'). We can expect more such
ovals to appear during this year, as a late sequel to the broadening event;
the belt could also change colour.

Visual observations are still very welcome, including good drawings, and
systematic colour estimates of the belts and zones. It is important to have a
record of the visual appearance of the planet so as to compare present-day
events with those recorded in the past.  In recent years the planet has been
dismally low for British observers, but this year it will climb much higher,
so I hope this this will be the year that BAA members turn your attention back
to Jupiter. Our web pages include guidelines for observers, and interim

Recent images of Jupiter from all around the world are posted by the

John Rogers
BAA Jupiter Section Director
jhr11 (at) 2010 May 18

BAA electronic bulletins service.      E-mail:
Bulletin transmitted on Wed May 19 22:45:42 BST 2010
(c) 2010 British Astronomical Association
Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Lat' 52.418056N Long' 1.719722E (Chimney Pot)
Elev: 38ft/11.5824 Meters above sea level
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
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