UC Berkeley: First time observer discovers huge storm on Neptune

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-05 07:24:57|Editor: Xiang Bo
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SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Ned Molter, an astronomy graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, has discovered a new feature on Neptune: A storm system nearly the size of Earth.

The storm system, which was found in a region where no bright cloud has ever been seen before, is about 9,000 kilometers in length, or one-third the size of Neptune's radius, spanning at least 30 degrees in both latitude and longitude.

Molter spotted the storm complex near Neptune's equator during a test run of twilight observing at W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii, and observed it getting much brighter between June 26 and July 2.

To astronomers, according to a UC Berkeley release announcing the finding, dusk and dawn are a waste of good observing time, as they want a truly dark sky.

Imke de Pater, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy and Molter's adviser, noted that the first-year graduate student had never observed before.

Molter is one of eight scholars accepted into the new Keck Visiting Scholars Program, launched this summer, which gives graduate students and post-doctoral researchers experience working at the telescope.

His assignment during his six-week stay was to develop a more efficient method for twilight observing, making use of time that otherwise might not be used. Most observers there peer deep into the night sky and cannot observe their targets during twilight.