Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Amateur makes Jupiter-sized discovery

I love stories about how amateurs still make vital contributions to science, despite the perception that science is all about big organizations and big projects now. When a large object - a comet or asteroid - hit Jupiter last week, it was Australian computer programmer Anthony Wesley, 44, who found the "scar" or impact zone in the Jovian atmosphere using the 14.5-inch reflecting telescope in his backyard. NASA has since confirmed the discovery - a timely one, since such impact zones last only a few days. Glenn Orton of NASA JPL said, "We are extremely lucky to be seeing Jupiter at exactly the right time, the right hour, the right side of Jupiter to witness the event. We couldn't have planned it better." So here's a cheer for Tony Wesley.

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