Expanding Spot on Venus Puzzles Astronomers

Aug 04, 2009 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Astronomers are trying to determine the cause of an expanding spot seen in Venus' atmosphere.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The expanding spot discovered on Venus last month may not have garnered as much attention as the meteor impact with Jupiter, but its cause is certainly more puzzling.

While astronomers are pretty sure that the new spot seen in Jupiter's landscape is caused by impact, there is evidence that this is not true of the spot seen on Venus. New Scientist reports on why astronomers don't think the spot of Venus was caused by a meteor:

"The spot is bright at ultraviolet wavelengths, which may argue against a meteoroid impact as a cause. That's because rocky bodies, with the exception of objects very rich in water ice, should cause an impact site to darken at ultraviolet wavelengths as it fills with debris that absorbs such light, says Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Venus Express team."

Some of the reasons being advanced for the spot in Venus' atmosphere include:

* . (This option is considered unlikely, since the thick atmosphere would likely block most from being visible to us.)

* Charged particles from solar interaction with Venus' atmosphere.

* Atmospheric turbulence concentrating bright material in a confined area.

The other interesting point about the bright spot is that it -- like the Jupiter "scar" -- was first noticed by an amateur astronomer. The fact that astronomy is so accessible to a wide range of people is interesting in terms of encouraging interest in the sciences.

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

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4.8 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2009
I'd love to know if there is a way to get networked amateur robotic controlled telescopes with digital cameras to all focus in on the same spot and then transmit that image to a central image processor for crunching? Is there anybody / any telescope in the amatuer price range, say ~$300 capable of above?
5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2009
Oooooh distributed amatuer astronomy
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2009
What it really means is that professional astronomers do not spend time on looking at stuff in the solar system.
5 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2009
Is there anybody / any telescope in the amatuer price range, say ~$300 capable of above?

No. The price range you give is way too low. The camera will cost more the scope will cost more and the controls will all cost more than or at least 300 EACH.

The concept is interesting its just the price would be higher.

4 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2009
No. The price range you give is way too low. The camera will cost more the scope will cost more and the controls will all cost more than or at least 300 EACH.

If you could get millions of people interested in owning one they wouldn't cost so much.

There are bigger problems than cost though.

Like distributed computing you'd want to have control of your own telescope when you want it and you'd want to lend your telescope to whatever pool you decide to join when you're not using it.

You want the telescopes somewhere nice like Mauna Kea, the telescopes would be physically pooled as well and that takes some charm out of it. A telescope anywhere near a city is as good as useless.

These telescopes need to be protected from bad weather and their action coordinated; you'd want something like a hangar full of amateur telescopes that is opened whenever the wind, moisture and lack of sunshine allows it to be. You'd want to hook up all these telescopes to a fast internet access and weather forecasting services and you'd need to develop some standardized framework that allows individual telescopes to jump in and out of desired pools.

You want expert users to be able to create a pool of telescopes with related information and schedules that regular users can join. E.g. users may want to join the pool that searches the sky for new asteroids or follows the latest comet when they're not using their telescope.

It's a cool idea, but I believe all these related infrastructure and maintenance expenses kill it deader than a dodo.
not rated yet Aug 05, 2009
The advent of commercialized cloud computing like Amazon's EC2 environment would lessen server costs drastically for such an undertaking. While high image quality is the paramount objective, many images taken from various locations could significantly influence the resulting output of a community of low-cost telescopes. But $300 is not a serious benchmark to expect when much more is spent by any individual on ski equipment or a paintball gun. It's dependent on an individual's passion.
Aug 06, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
5 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2009
Keep an open mind. But not so far open your brain falls out.