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Local Astronomer Captures Jupiter Fireball

By Emily Trube, 1080 KRLD | CBSDFW.COM
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  Emily Trube started a career in broadcast journalism in 2003, after...
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0912 science jupiterimpact full 600 Local Astronomer Captures Jupiter Fireball

Dallas amateur astronomer George Hall captured this image of an apparent impact on Jupiter while recording video telescope observations of the planet on Sept. 10, 2012, from Dallas Texas. (Photo courtesy George Hall/George’s Astrophotography)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Dallas astronomer is apparently the only person in the world who caught on video what looks like an explosion on the planet Jupiter this week.

George Hall just happened to be recording the planet very early Monday morning when an impact on Jupiter created an enormous fireball.

Hall says he was not aware of what he had captured until he started seeing posts on star gazing websites by a fellow amateur astronomer Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisconsin.

“He had seen something he thought was an impact and wondered if anyone had caught it on video,” says Hall.  “I went back and started looking through the videos that I had captured, and sure enough, there was certainly this very prominent bright flash.”

Hall is reporting that the impact occurred at 6:35 a.m. CDT on Sept. 10. He used a 12-inch LX200GPS telescope equipped with a 3x Televue Barlow and Point Grey Flea 3 camera.  Hall says that he  is giving the raw data he gathered to the University of Texas at Dallas.

“My best guess is that it was a small undetected comet that is now history, hopefully it will sign its name on Jupiter’s cloud tops,” Peterson wrote on the website CloudyNights.com

“This is a once in a lifetime event,” says Hall.

A retired engineer with Raytheon, Hall says that astronomy was his hobby as a teenager.

“Later, after I got much older, I picked it up again.”  Laughing he says, “I now have more resources and a better camera”

He says that he meets regularly with the  Texas Astronomical Society in Dallas. The group holds star gazing parties on a weekly basis around the city, which are open to the public.

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