Jupiter had three moons casting shadows on its surface over the weekend, and the event was viewable from Earth, which resulted in an impressive showing.
Jupiter is typically known for being the big planet with a red storm happening right in the visible line of sight. Interestingly though, the planet made headlines over the weekend for an entirely different reason. A rare celestial event took place, which allowed three shadows to be seen from Earth on Jupiter. What was so spectacular about this? Well, this is something that won’t be visible from Earth on Jupiter for another 17 years. In fact, scientists and astronomers have pin-pointed the next time that an event of this nature will unfold as being December of 2032.
Jupiter though has a number of moons surrounding it. Specifically, the massive planet has more than 60 moons around it – which make it one of the busiest planets in the entire solar system for activity around these moons. However, not all of them are the same size. Some of them are smaller, and don’t actually cast much of a shadow with them at all. That wasn’t the case though with this event. It was found that three of the planet’s four largest moons would be casting a visible shadow on the planet.
The three moons included Europa, Callisto and Io all of which make up three of the four biggest moons that surround the planet. Interestingly, one of them is roughly the size of our moon – and another is nearly identical in sizing to Mercury – the first planet in the solar system. The event itself occurred just shortly after 6pm on the West Coast, but then peaked between 711pm and 1027pm when all three moons were in action. Jupiter originally comes into view or rises in the sky around 6pm on the West Coast, but interestingly enough – the peak did, in fact, take some time.
It wasn’t something that could be seen without a telescope, but the event was one that was quite interesting, however. Even just with the rarity of the event, it was something that astronomers and scientists alike couldn’t pass up seeing, and the video and pictures that have accompanied the event have been nothing short of impressive. A part of the event where all three moons were present lasted just short of 30 minutes though, according to reports and images captured in the event.