Are there sketches of the ShoeMaker-Levy 9 impact?
Posted 27 July 2009 - 09:09 PM
I thought maybe some CN'rs might have sketched it but I forgot how long ago it was...
Posted 29 July 2009 - 02:37 AM
The period of July 16 to July 22, 1994 was one of the most exciting times in my life. Mankind was able to witness an event (on the planet Jupiter) that we have only had remnant scars (e.g. craters on the Moon and other planets) to study from. I refer to the impacts of the remnants of Shoemaker-Levy 9 over the southern hemisphere of Jupiter over the period of time mentioned above.
My friends and I were very excited to hear about the predicted impact of a comet torn apart by a close passage to Jupiter (theorized to have passed 13,300 miles (21, 400 km) above the cloud tops of Jupiter on July 7, 1992). The now famous team of Eugene M. Shoemaker (04/28/1928-07/18/1997; http://en.wikipedia....Merle_Shoemaker ), Carolyn S. Shoemaker (the most prolific comet discoverer in history with 32 comets to her credit and over 800 asteroids), and David H. Levy (Discoverer of 22 comets, a prolific author (35 books and writer for Sky and Telescope and PARADE magazine), a champion for the science education of children, and a good friend: http://www.jarnac.org/ ). The team, using the Palomar 18-inch (0.46-cm) Schmidt telescope ( http://www.jarnac.or...ar Picture1.jpg ) discovered a "squashed comet" (as described by Carolyn Shoemaker reviewing the Schmidt photographic plate) on March 24, 1993 and announced on March 25, 1993 (IAU Circular 5725; C/1993e). It was announced on May 22, 1993 (IAU Circular 5800) that the fragmented (estimated 21 fragments) comet would crash into the planet Jupiter beginning on July 16, 1994. The S-L 9 comet fragments were designated with letters A through W (excluding I and O which may be confused with the numbers 0 and 1) with fragment A the closest to Jupiter and W the furthest (Unfortunately the fragments were numbered opposite the letters (Fragment A numbered 21, etc.). The comet would reach itâ€™s furthest distance from Jupiter (apojove) on July 16, 1993 (30 million miles (48 million km) then head back towards itâ€™s destiny (demise) with the king of the planets.
An image of Shoemaker-Levy 9 obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) between January 24-27, 1994 showing the 21 fragments and their tails.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 02:39 AM
An image of Jeff Beish (right) and Tippy Dâ€™Auria (left) standing next to Jeffâ€™s 16-inch F/6.9 Newtonian reflector.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 02:41 AM
Posted 29 July 2009 - 02:42 AM
Over the next seven days (July 16-22, 1994) we continued to observe as many impacts (scars) as possible using Jeffâ€™s 16-inch Newtonian. One night the seeing was perfect (10/10) and we were able to observe Jupiter at 1,000x and even noted detail over Ganymede! I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this event with friends. I made many observations and transit timings of the impact scars over Jupiterâ€™s southern hemisphere over the next two months (until September 18, 1994). It was very interesting watch the evolution of the impact scars as they merged with each other until finally forming a dusky band over the impact zone. It was a fantastic experience for anyone to witness such an event.
The observations below were all made by myself between the period of July 19, 1994 and August 31, 1994. The image on top was made on July 19, 1994 (01:25 U.T.; L2 139.4* and L3 210.0*) using a 16-inch (41-cm) F/6.9 Newtonian reflector (360x). The impact scars visible at this time were (preceding to following) E (17), A (21), C (19), and K (12). The middle observation was made on July 31, 1994 (00:20 U.T.; L2 101.6*, L3 175.4*) using a 16-inch (41-cm) F/6.9 Newtonian reflector (382x). The impact scars visible are (preceding to following) H (14), E (17), A (21), and C (19). Note how Fragment E (17) has become elongated (east-west) compared to the earlier observation and A (21) has nearly disappeared. Fragment C (19) has faded as well. The bottom observation was made on August 31, 1994 (00:45 U.T.: L2 089.1*, L3 171.4*) using an 8-inch (20-cm) F/7.5 Newtonian reflector (213x and 285x). The diffuse fragment preceding the central meridian (CM) is E (17) and K (12) is visible towards the following limb.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:31 AM
Posted 29 July 2009 - 01:09 PM
Carlos, a really superb report of that most exciting event.
my wife and i viewed the major impact zones through an 18 inch reflector at the local newchapel observatory here in Stoke on trent UK, and it was nice in my C8 too.
in fact there was a long queue of interested members of the public waiting to view through the 18 inch.
Posted 31 July 2009 - 05:44 PM
Thank you for the compliments on my Shoemaker-Levy 9 observations and narrative. It was a very exciting time for all astronomers and the world as we witnessed a celestial event that had not been seen before. I am glad that you both were able to view that special event.
Posted 31 July 2009 - 06:05 PM
Posted 01 August 2009 - 08:04 AM
Thank you very much for sharing your mini-memoir and sketches. At the time, I only saw media accounts of the SL-9 event. Reading your narrative of the initial observations is the kind of first-person history that I like the best.
Posted 05 August 2009 - 09:12 AM
Thank you for your compliments on my S-L 9 narrative and images. It was a very exciting time for people around the world. The current impact scar (Wesley Comet Impact Scar (WCIS)) brings back memories of that special event in 1994. The best of luck in your own observations of the impact site.
Posted 06 August 2009 - 05:15 PM
Posted 06 August 2009 - 08:55 PM
I knew you were sketching back 15 years ago and beyond. I did a little doodling in my observing log then but primarily jotted down narratives of my impressions during observations. I checked and although I observed the impact scars then and marked them on an unrolled ribbon map of Jupiter. I missed a great opportunity to make some sketches.
I read with joy what you wrote above and I have recalled the excitment of those days until the scars faded away. In my notes from that time I added an addendum in September 94 that reads: ".. McMasters Backyard Astronomy column (S&T Oct 94) has 3 sketches of Shoemaker/Levy, one in color by J. Bergeron p.25, 2 by C Hernandez p. 26...". If you have this issue of S&T you can go there and see more of Carlos's sketches.
Wonderful stuff Carlos.
and Rob, some libraries keep back issues of S&T for a long time.
Posted 06 August 2009 - 10:39 PM
Posted 10 August 2009 - 06:34 AM
The Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact period (July 16-22, 1994) was a very exciting one for the entire world. Mankind had never witnessed such an event in the heavens (only the remnants (e.g. craters) of impacts). Professional planetary astronomers were informing the public that amateur instruments would not likely detect the impacts. They thought that we may detect a small white feature over the impact site. We were all proven wrong when the impact scars were visible in finder telescopes! I am glad that you both were able to share in the excitement of the event.