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Jupiter suffers second visible meteor strike in three months

by Steven Mostyn - Aug 23 2010, 17:09

Ooof! Right to the gut. Image: Masayuki Tachikawa.

The planet of Jupiter is quickly becoming something of a punch bag for passing meteors following news that our giant gaseous neighbour was struck for the second time in only three months on Friday.

The latest impact, which was captured on camera by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa, shows a small bright flash flaring up from Jupiter’s surface, near the north edge of the Northern Equatorial Belt.

Monitoring Jupiter for a further two rotations directly after the impact – which created a flash of around two seconds – revealed that the meteor had inflicted no serious damage to the planet.

It is believed the impacting object was probably less than a kilometre in size, nowhere near substantial enough to pose a threat to Jupiter but certainly big enough to obliterate all life on Earth were such a meteor ever to strike our planet.

Tachikawa logged the event at 18:22 (UT) on August 20, a time and date verified by a second Japanese astronomer, Aoki Kazuo, who also witnessed the impact despite being located some 500 miles from his fellow astronomer.

“It seems to me that this is similar to [the impact] observed on June 3 of this year,” commented Junichi Watanabe of the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan, referencing a recent impact logged by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley and later verified by astronomer Christopher Go in the Philippines.

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