New Storm Makes Surprise Appearance on Neptune

Extremely large, bright storm system caught on camera at W. M. Keck Observatory

Maunakea, Hawaii – Striking images of a storm system nearly the size of Earth have astronomers doing a double-take after pinpointing its location near Neptune’s equator, a region where no bright cloud has ever been seen before.

“Seeing a storm this bright at such a low latitude is extremely surprising,” said Ned Molter, a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, who spotted the storm complex during a test run of twilight observing at W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii. “Normally, this area is really quiet and we only see bright clouds in the mid-latitude bands, so to have such an enormous cloud sitting right at the equator is spectacular.”

This massive storm system is about 9,000 kilometers in length, or 1/3 the size of Neptune’s radius, spanning at least 30 degrees in both latitude and longitude. Molter observed it getting much brighter between June 26 and July 2. Continue reading… 

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