September’s Harvest Moon -
A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. For example, Monday’s Full Moon was the one nearest this year’s autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere, traditionally called the Harvest Moon.
Extraterrestrial Hurricanes: Other Planets Have Huge Storms, Too
Hurricane Irene is a monster storm on Earth. But it’s just a baby compared to the massive cyclones of Jupiter and Saturn
Our planet is not the only one in the solar system that boasts huge, hurricane-like storms. The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, for example, churn out spinning squalls that can be bigger than the entire Earth. While these storms aren’t fed by warm ocean water the way terrestrial hurricanes are, they’re similar in a lot of ways, scientists say.
“There certainly are storms that have thunder and lightning and rain that are bigger than terrestrial hurricanes,” said atmospheric scientist Andrew Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology, a researcher with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn. “And more violent — the winds on those planets are stronger, too.”
Giant Planets, Giant Storms
Hurricane Irene measured about 600 miles (966 kilometers) across as it bore down on the U.S. East Coast today (Aug. 26).
That’s big and scary, but it pales next to storms on our solar system’s gas giants. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — which has been raging continuously for at least 180 years — could fit two entire Earths within it, Ingersoll said.
And in December, a thunderstorm about 6,200 miles (10,000 km) wide erupted on Saturn. This one, known as the Great White Spot, is still going strong, and some of its clouds have wrapped all the way around the ringed planet.