Amateur astronomers captured incredible video (example below) of a fireball smashing into Jupiter on August 28. According to Kyoto University astronomer Ko Arimatsu—who leads a program in which backyard astronomers contribute to the scientific study the solar system—this particular impact was comparable to the 1908 Tunguska impact in Siberia that devastated 800 square miles of forest. The data from observing these rare flashes helps scientists understand Jupiter's atmosphere and meteorology and the formation of the early solar system when these impacts were likely more common. "Most collisions with Jupiter, the solar system's fifth planet, are witnessed opportunistically by amateur astronomers," reports the New York Times.
"You can't have hours and hours, night after night, on big professional telescopes," University of Leicester planetary scientist Leigh Fletcher said. "You have to have dedicated backyard astronomers across the globe to be able to do it."
above video: Tadao Ohsugi