Amateurs Have Chance to See Jovian Sky Show

Article excerpt

The fireworks on Jupiter are giving amateur astronomers a twinkling of chance to see something through their backyard telescopes.

In the universe of probability, that's still pretty low. But it's better than predictions by many scientists that only the most powerful telescopes would be able to discern anything.

"I'd say there's now an outside chance," said Richard Schwartz, professor of astronomy at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. "But viewing conditions have to be excellent. I'd say there still are going to be a lot of frustrated persons who see nothing."

Last week, many scientists said viewers would need telescopes with at least 18-inch wide apertures, or tube diameters, to have even a hope. That's bigger than anything owned by a university in the state of Missouri. The Post-Dispatch joined in warning people that typical amateur equipment, such as 4-inch and 6-inch telescopes, was inadequate.

But several astronomers were quoted Tuesday by The Associated Press as saying the huge size of the dark impact spots on Jupiter's thick atmosphere put them within sight of some lucky amateurs. …