The Before and After of Jupiter's BeltsS

Something is wrong in Jupiter. Astronomer Anthony Wesley's photos show that one of its two dark stripes is gone. Maybe Sir Arthur C. Clarke was right and the gas giant will turn into a star to jumpstart life in Europa.

But no, even while it's 2010, the process has happened before. It's a phenomenon called South Equatorial Belt Disturbance, and it happens every three to fifteen years. The dark reddish brown—caused by sulfur and phosphorous mixed with ammonia crystals at 108 degrees below zero—fades away. At the same time, the Great Red Spot—a fiery anticyclonic storm that can reach 40,000 kilometers in diameter—gets darker.

The Before and After of Jupiter's BeltsS

But don't worry. The naked Jupiter will regain its belt soon. If you have a telescope, you will be able to see it during the next few weeks. [Astro BobThanks Bob!]