Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?

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Offline Peteuplink

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Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?
« on: 17/10/2010 21:43:27 »
Being an astronomer I've been really happy by some of the great views of Jupiter and it's moons that I've been getting this month. What I unfortunately haven't been able to see is the southern belt, and that's because it's not there anymore for some reason.

Scientists seem to be just as baffled by the belts disappearance as everyone else is. There doesn't appear to be any positive answer as to why it's happened, but it does seem to be a regular event. Could it be some sort of internal catalyst?

Anyone got any good theories as to why it's not there at the moment?
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Offline Soul Surfer

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Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?
« Reply #1 on: 17/10/2010 22:42:43 »
My understanding is that the belt is obscured by higher level pale clouds.  The interesting thing is that the clouds do not obscure the great red spot which becomes much more visible during these periods.  The obscuration of the belt is very easily visible even through quite a small telescope or high power binoculars.  The general opinion is that it should reappear in a few months.
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Offline LeeE

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Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?
« Reply #2 on: 17/10/2010 23:22:41 »
Belt singular?  What is there in its place?

You'd need more than just high power binoculars, or a small telescope to see the different weather belts on Jupiter.  You can certainly pick out quite a few of the Jovian moons through a 10x pair of binoculars but you're still just talking points of light.  Even if you were to have a 100x pair of binoculars you'd not be able to see the weather belts (and being 100x magnification you'd have to use them with a stand/tripod because you certainly wouldn't be able to hold them steady in your hands).
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Offline Soul Surfer

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Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?
« Reply #3 on: 17/10/2010 23:39:38 »
The main southern belt is just about invisible at the moment you would normally expect to see two belts on jupiter but now you can only see the northern one.

Among my Astronomical equipment I have an 80mm 20x-60x spotter scope mounted on a tripod for highly portable astronomical observations.  This will show the disc and main belts quite clearly even at the low magnification of 20x.  I was assuming a tripod to be essential.
« Last Edit: 17/10/2010 23:42:51 by Soul Surfer »
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Offline Peteuplink

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Why has Jupiters southern belt disappeared?
« Reply #4 on: 18/10/2010 09:52:35 »
I wonder what's caused the clouds then? I don't think it can be a seasonal thing because as far as I know Jupiter has no seasons due to the fact that it has no tilt. This means it never has one pole towards the sun and one away as the Earth and other planets do.
"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards." - Fred Hoyle