Little Red Spot
To Be, Or Not
You may know about Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a cyclonic storm on the giant planet that’s been raging at least since Galileo first turned a primitive telescope skyward. Back in 2006, two much smaller storms combined, combined again with a third, and then to the surprise of a whole lot of astronomers, changed color (from white to an orange-red) to become a second red spot.
Quickly dubbed the “Little Red Spot”, the newcomer was watched closely as it passed nearby by it’s larger brother. It survived that first encounter (wasn’t that close, after all). But last month and early this month, it passed by again. This time, we’re not sure it survived.
As of this date, the little spot’s ultimate fate remains unclear. The July 5th image by Japanese amateur Isao Miyazaki (seen here) and those by Wesley and others offer tantalizing hints that some material from the spot may have survived, perhaps destined to re-form on the other side of the GRS. One thing is certain — the nights ahead will be interesting ones for Jupiter observers!
Emily at the Planetary Society has a great (but small) animation of the interaction.