Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jupiter-The Savior Planet

According to a New York Times article titled, All Eyepieces on Jupiter After A Big Impact by Dennis Overbye, Astronomers were scrambling to get big telescopes turned to Jupiter on Tuesday to observe the remains of what looks like the biggest smashup in the solar system since fragments of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the planet in July 1994. Something-probably a small comet-smacked into Jupiter on Sunday, leaving a bruise the size of the Pacific Ocean near its south pole. Just after midnight, Australian time, on Sunday, Jupiter came into view in the eyepiece of Anthony Wesley, an amateur astronomer in Murrumbateman....'This was a big event', said Leigh Fletcher of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 'In the inner solar system it would have been a disaster.'
That's pretty scary....a bruise on Jupiter the size of the Pacific Ocean! What fascinated me most about the article were some details at the end of the article. One detail was that whatever hit Jupiter was probably pulled apart by tidal forces from the planet's huge gravitational pull before it hit the huge planet. Other amazing things stated in the article were quotes by Dr. Franck Marchis, an astronomer, who wrote in an e-mail that "humans should be thankful for Jupiter....The solar system would have been a very dangerous place if we did not have Jupiter. We should thank our giant planet for suffering for us. Its strong gravitational field is acting like a shield protecting us from comets coming from the outer part of the solar system."
How cool is that? Jupiter is like a savior planet....saving us from large comets which could harm our planet....Jupiter takes the hits for us, Jesus- saves us, helps us, protects us and suffers for us....... 
And how impressive is the work of the "amateur astronomer" Anthony Wesley. He was going to quit watching the universe for the evening and watch TV sports instead, but decided to go back outside and take one more look in his telescope. He's the one that makes the discovery and e-mails other astronomers to tell them what he's found.....I would say that his perseverance paid off in a big way.