Impact Event on Jupiter Observed in Japan

TOKYO, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Amateur astronomers in Japan have observed a fireball on Jupiter in an apparent impact event, the third in 13 months, experts said.

The Web site Spaceweather.com, which monitors cosmic events, said amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa of Kumamoto City, Japan, caught the fireball on video Friday, SPACE.com reported.


Another skywatcher, Aoki Kazuo of Tokyo, recorded a flash on the gas giant at the same time.

The 490-mile separation between the two observers excluded the possibility of the flash being caused by an event near Earth, Spaceweather.com said.

Jupiter is no stranger to spectacular impacts. In 1994, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke into more than 20 pieces that slammed into Jupiter one after another. At the time, astronomers estimated such impacts could occur on Jupiter every 50 to 250 years.

The latest fireball comes just over a year after a spectacular crash July 19, 2009, when what scientists now think was an asteroid about 1,600 feet wide slammed into the planet.

That impact created a “bruise” on the planet’s surface the size of the Pacific Ocean, scientists say.

Amateur astronomers in Australia and the Philippines recorded the flash of another impact in June, SPACE.com said.

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