This last week, astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii spotted some huge storms on Uranus. Prior to 2007, when Uranus’ southern hemisphere was visible, there was a really bright storm known as the Berg. Over a few years, that storm started to migrate towards the equator before it disappeared. The current storm, spotted on August 6th in Uranus’ northern hemisphere, is even brighter than the Berg. Near-infrared images show that the storm will reach high altitudes near the tropopause. By studying this storm, we can see how storms on other planets evolve and compare it to those on Earth.
The planet Jupiter has 67 confirmed moons. This gives it the largest retinue of moons with “reasonably secure” orbits of any planet in the Solar System. In fact, Jupiter and its moons are like a miniature solar system with the inner moons orbiting faster than the others. Eight of Jupiter’s moons are regular satellites, with prograde and nearly circular orbits that are not greatly inclined with respect to Jupiter’s equatorial plane. The remainder of Jupiter’s moons are irregular satellites, whose prograde and retrograde orbits are much farther from Jupiter and have high inclinations and eccentricities. These moons were probably captured by Jupiter from solar orbits. There are 17 recently discovered irregular satellites that have not yet been named.