Source – Space Weather News for Friday, Nov. 12, 2010: http://spaceweather.com
Earlier this year when Jupiter’s great South Equatorial Belt (SEB) vanished, researchers urged amateur astronomers to be alert for its eventual return. The SEB had come and gone before, they noted, and the revival was something to behold. Alert: It might be happening now. After months of quiet in Jupiter’s south equatorial zone, a white plume is surging through the cloudtops where the SEB should be.
It might not look like much, but this is how a revival of the SEB begins–a small disturbance in the upper atmosphere heralds a much larger profusion of spots and swirls bursting forth around the whole circumference of the giant planet. Amid the confusion, Jupiter’s vast brown stripe emerges.
Subsequent observations by astronomers in the United States, Japan, and the Philippines not only confirm the plume, but also show it brightening rapidly. Indeed, as Nov. 12th unfolds, it is the single brightest spot on Jupiter in wavebands ranging from infrared to ultraviolet.
“This plume is so energetic that we can confidently expect it to develop into the SEB Revival,” says John Rogers, director of the Jupiter section of the British Astronomical Association. “The SEB Revival is usually spectacular, so we can expect impressive and rapidly changing disturbances over the next 3 months.”
Experienced planetary photographers are encouraged to monitor developments. If events proceed apace, the Revival could become visible to novices using small backyard telescopes, so stay tuned.