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Comet SL9v Hits Jupiter

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, fragment V hits Jupiter,
Observed and sketched by Chris Heilman.

July 21, 1994 9:17pm - 10:41pm MST
(7/22 4:17 - 5:41 UT)

Impact V was the only comet strike that I was able to observe directly. Except for a few radio observations, little data was taken on this impact. No fireball was recorded and there was no persistent spot. However, these images suggest that a transient disturbance may have occured.

The top 5 images are from Kitt Peak National Observatory. Here is theinformation that came with their images:

Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) Images of Fragment DGHQRS Impacts

Five pictures of Jupiter are shown in time sequence, taken on July 22 by Beatrice Muller (KPNO) and Cynthia Phillips (Harvard) at the 0.9-Meter telescope. The spots have been identified as the GDSR complex, Q1, and H from top to bottom. The frames are ordered (left to right) RBVIU with approximately 8 1/2 minutes of elapsed time - the first being taken at 4:18.22 (UT). Three comet impact sites are evident on the right side of each frame.

The lower set of images are 5 sketches made by Chris Heilman as described below.

These 9 images are scanned sketches which were made freehand and in real time: eye at the 'scope, pencil at the notebook. Each drawing took from 2 to 4 minutes to complete, although poor conditions required longer 'exposure' to get the same levelof detail. No detail was added later, however some image enhancement was done:

The pictures were resized, so Jupiter would not grow and shrink. Each picture was rotated for a uniform tilt, south is up for each. The images of Jupiter (and the moon, Ganymede) were registered. Contrast and brightness extremes were adjusted to fit together. Finally, a uniform grey background was added to all pictures.

The telescope used was a 6 inch f/4.9 reflector built by Pierre Schwaar with a 6mm orthoscopic eyepiece and a (Celestron Ultima) 2X barlow lens. The magnification is 247x, however the pictures are twice as big as the viewed image, so at 72 dpi pitch, these images represent about a 500x view.

Local viewing conditions were poor. The site is south of Phoenix, Arizona, and was socked in with monsoon clouds for most of the evening. Good clarity and seeing held until 8:40pm MST when thin clouds took some contrast away, but the seeing was steady. Two large impact were seen near the border of the South Polar Region one near the meridian and the other half way to the preceding limb,and a smaller impact close to the following limb. A sketch was made but not included here. Another sketch was made at 9:15 to 9:17, the calculated impact time. No fireball was observed.

At 9:19 the clouds thickened, to the point that Jupiter resembled the Owl nebula. Until 9:40, almost no planetary detail could be recognized. At 9:40 some holes in the clouds gave periodic good views with periods of near opacity between them. At 10:30 the clouds cleared, but Jupiter was low in the sky and seeing rapidly deteriorated.

© Copyright 2003 Chris Heilman. Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Last update: 9/30/03; 9:19:19 AM.