One would think that such significant moons in our solar system would not exist without our knowledge because we can take pictures of galaxies millions of light years away, but not only are there moons that we still don’t know about, but they are being discovered by amateur astronomers.
As the equivalent of placing the 80th star on Jupiter’s flag, amateur Kai Li has officially presented evidence of Jupiter’s 80th moon, a previously undiscovered heavenly body made of red rock.
The moon is currently awaiting a common name and is believed to be part of a very large comet that was swallowed up by Jupiter’s massive gravitational field, not part of the planet itself.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the only moon that Ly has discovered. In fact, using data from a detailed study of Jupiter’s space in 2003 from the Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory, Ly found four moons in the last year alone and analyzed one-fifth of the same data as “summer hobbyist.”
“I am proud to say that this is the first planetary moon discovered by an amateur astronomer,” Ly wrote in a statement to the astronomy community. “Besides, there’s really nothing out of the ordinary about this Jovian moon – it’s just a typical member of retrograde Carme group.”
The Carme group was discovered in 1938 and is a group of “Jovian moons” (Jupiter moons), all of which came from a large comet or other debris. The largest moon in the group, which carries 99% of its total mass, is called Carme, but its diameter is only 22 km.
The Carme Group is notable for its dramatic elliptical orbit, but also for the fact that it orbits in the opposite direction from the planet itself, which is known as retrograde. While the newly discovered “EJc0061 = S/2003 J 24” is the last of Jupiter’s known moons to be discovered, more, if not hundreds, may yet be discovered.
Jupiter’s moons are objects of interest, including creatures like Io, the most volcanically active body in the solar system, while Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, is the only moon in our solar system with a magnetic field, which gives it an aura.
The best time to see it is when Earth and Jupiter are distorted by the sun, which allows us to see it in full light.