Transit Times of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Calculate the best times to see the Great Red Spot.
by Adrian R. Ashford and Alan M. MacRobertA true-color image of Jupiter taken by NASA'sCassinispacecraft on October 8, 2000. The GreatRed Spot is upper left of center. It always stays in the south edge of the brownish SouthEquatorial Belt. In this image south is up to match the inverted view in many astronomicaltelescopes.
Courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
Jupiter's most famous feature is its Great Red Spot (GRS). The spot was named around 1878when it turned a vivid brick red, but in recent decades it has generally been a much lessconspicuous pale tan. The Red Spot is a vast, long-lived storm, spinning like a cyclone.However, unlike low-pressure cyclones and hurricanes on Earth, the GRS rotates in a counter-clockwise direction in Jupiter's southern hemisphere, showing that it is a
-pressure system.Of course there's a lot more to look for in Jupiter's atmosphere than the GRS. That's a good thing, because for something so famous, it can be surprisingly difficult to see. It appears slightly moredistinct when Jupiter is viewed through a light green or blue filter.Below is a calculator you can use to predict the local andUniversal Timesand dates when thecenter of the Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian, the imaginary line down thecenter of the planet's disk from pole to pole. Press "Initialize to today" to view the dates andtimes of the next three transits of the GRS. Or you can enter any date in 2007 or 2008 to findother transit times. The listed times should be accurate to within a few minutes.The predictions assume the Red Spot is at Jovian System II longitude 119°, the most recent value(as of June 4, 2007) provided by John W. McAnally of theAssociation of Lunar and PlanetaryObservers. If the GRS has moved elsewhere, it will transit 1 2/3 minutes late for every 1° of longitude greater than 119° or 1 2/3 minutes early for every 1° less than 119°.