Impact, fireball seen on Jupiter

Sept. 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM

RACINE, Wis., Sept. 11 (UPI) -- An amateur astronomer in Wisconsin says he observed an apparent impact on Jupiter early Monday that created a large, bright fireball on the planet.

Dan Peterson of Racine was observing the largest planet in our solar system with his 12-inch telescope when the event occurred, Spaceweather.com, which tracks space weather and night sky events, reported.

Is is unclear whether the impacting object was an asteroid or a comet, like the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that broke into pieces and slammed into the gas giant in 1994.

"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 in an Internet forum.

Amateur astronomer George Hall of Dallas, after reading Peterson's initial report, suspected he might have captured video of the event.

"When I saw the post, I went back and examined the videos that I had collected this morning," Hall wrote on his night sky photography website Monday.

He confirmed he had video of the 7:35 a.m. EDT impact, SPACE.com reported.

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