For about seven weeks, parts of the cyclone of the Great Red Spot of Jupiter have detached, under the threat of other storms. (Assumed: Anthony Wesley)
Experts praised an amateur astronomer from central Queensland for documenting a historic planetary event through a home-made telescope.
- Anthony Wesley photographs Jupiter with a camera mounted on his telescope, which he made with mirrors and metal frames
- The photos are from the Big Red Spot, a storm that has raged on Jupiter for over 200 years
- Scientists say that Jupiter is susceptible to sustained extreme weather events, but no one is sure how old the storm is
A storm has raged on Jupiter for over 200 years, known as its great red spot.
But the storm could be in agony, under the attack of other meteorological events that have surrounded the gas giant since April.
The cosmic event attracted the attention of professional and amateur astronomers worldwide, but an Australian computer programmer stunned the experts with his images.
Anthony Wesley built his telescope using mirrors, a metal structure and a camera. (Provided: jupiter.samba.org)
Commercial city lights for the Queensland starry sky
In 2017, Anthony Wesley and his wife Leisa moved from Canberra to a remote city in central Queensland due to its climate and because it was in favor of searching for stars.
He worked as a government computer programmer before the tree change took him to the remote estate of Rubyvale, a four-hour drive west of Rockhampton.
He works for a photographic company from home but can also be found in the observatory in his backyard, looking closely at his favorite planet.
"I'm a fan of Jupiter," Wesley said.
Only 640 people live in Rubyvale, but Mr. Wesley said he knew at least six other space enthusiasts in the area.
He said the weather conditions were perfect for star gazing.
He is out every morning and every night looking at the planet and its most amazing feature – the Great Red Spot – but something has changed in April.
"It was quite dramatic … (the images were) showing the point in a state that no one has ever seen before," Wesley said.
"Suddenly, in the last two months or so, he began to suffer these huge peelings, or events of flaking.
"Large and huge pieces of storm are swept away by other storms nearby and the red stain of Jupiter is shrinking, shrinking much more quickly than it was.
"No one has ever seen this happen before and nobody can really predict what is going to happen.
Mr. Wesley said that all his images were taken on his telescope, which he made at home from mirrors and metal frames.
It is connected to a lens mounted on what defines a "sky tracking system".
A photo of the great red spot of Jupiter taken by Anthony Wesley in April, before it began to unravel. (Assumed: Anthony Wesley)
The & # 39; incredible images & # 39; of amateurs
Jonti Horner, who is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland, said that Wesley's last photos were among the best he had ever seen.
"Even though he's an amateur photographer, it's not his day job, he's essentially a professional – he does an incredible job of his image," he said.
"It has a long history of incredible images of Jupiter and has worked on a significant number of scientific articles."
Professor Horner said that Wesley was among a group of international space enthusiasts who had documented the changes in recent weeks.
The author of David's Austrro Space News, David Reneke, said that discoveries like these cannot be made without amateurs like Mr. Wesley, who watched the same thing night after night.
"Because we use the term amateur, people think they are second-rate, third-rate, and they aren't," Reneke said.
"What Anthony did here is to produce photos that I didn't even see with the giant telescopes.
An image of the Great Red Spot of Jupiter taken from NASA's Juno spacecraft in 2017. (Provided: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Roman Tkachenko)
"Where he and other amateurs come here, they adapt to the emptiness that astronomers cannot do.
"Where amateurs arrive have time to spare – this is their hobby and they now have excellent equipment.
"Some of the telescopes you can buy now on the counter can rival any telescope 20 or 30 years ago around the world."
The discovery helps the experts understand the planet
There is disagreement between the scientific community on how ancient the Great Red Spot is.
Some say it was discovered in 1600, but Professor Horner said it was not clear if this was the same storm visible in 2019.
"The debate about whether it is 400 or 200 years old is really interesting because a red storm was seen by Giovanni Cassini in 1650 and has been regularly observed since 1800, but there were no observations during the 1700s," Professor Horner has He said.
"That doesn't mean that he certainly wasn't there."
He said the planet could be susceptible to sustained extreme weather events.
"Either the storm is 400 years old, probably longer, or storms like the Great Red Spot are a common feature of his time," Professor Horner said.
He said the outcome of this event would lead to a greater understanding of the planet, the largest in our solar system.
"In a sense, as we will see in the coming years, the coming decades will actually help us make it work while we work the atmosphere and how it behaves."
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