British Astronomical Association
Supporting amateur astronomers since 1890

Secondary menu

Main menu

BAA Articles

New Storms Erupt on Neptune.

Astronomers using the Keck telescope at the Maunakea observatory in Hawaii have reported the presence of earth-sized storms on Neptune.  The article below gives further details of the discovery and why the appearance of these storms in unusual. 

As noted in BAA eBulletin 977, the storm was first detected on 2017 June 10 by Australian amateurs Darryl Milika and Pat Nicholas who imaged a bright spot in Neptune's northern hemisphere. They used a C14 Schmidt-Cassegrain, with IR, R, G and B filters. A series of images taken from 19:45 UT until 21:02 UT showed the spot moved with the rotation of the planet. Congratulations to Darryl and Pat, who are BAA members, on this remarkable observation!

Neptune is currently in the constellation of Aquarius and will reach opposition on 5th September at  magnitude of +7.4.  The ice giant has a small disk size of 2.4" and small telescopes will reveal little more than a bluish disk.  Imagers using larger instruments can however follow large storms on Neptune's disk-  On 7th October 2014, Australian amateur Anthony Wesley used his 16 inch telescope to image bright storms in the planet's atmosphere.  If you have access to a large telescope, it might be worth making regular observations of Neptune to see if the storms can be detected.  You can send your observations to Mike Foulkes who directs the Saturn, Uranus and Neptune Section.

Details of Neptune's location can be found in the Handbook of the British Astronomical Association. 

http://www.keckobservatory.org/recent/entry/new_storm_makes_surprise_appearance_on_neptune

Edited Augst 21 2017

Like This Article