Discussion: Earth experiences storms every day, be it in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, or thunderstorms. Other planets in the solar system experience storms as well, albeit in slightly different forms. Previous articles have gone into detail about storms on Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Now, we will turn our focus onto the dark-blue plant Neptune and its Great Dark Spot. The Great Dark Spot, first discovered by Voyager 2 in 1989, was similar to Jupiter’s Great Red spot in appearance as well as the fact that they were anticyclonic storms. Though, the Great Dark Spot had a surprising lack of clouds.
The Great Dark Spot was roughly 8,100 miles by 4,100 miles in size, roughly the size of the Earth, though it did appear to change size shape over time. Winds in the Great Dark Spot were measured at an astounding 1,500 miles per hour, easily the fastest in the solar system. Large white clouds, similar to cirrus clouds in Earth’s atmosphere appeared in the storm, and unlike Earth’s cirrus clouds which only last a few hour, the clouds in the Great Dark Spot could persist for 36 hours. When the Great Dark Spot was photographed again by the Hubble Telescope in 1994, the spot had disappeared, making scientists wonder if it had disappeared and why. Upon further investigation, a very similar dark spot was found in Neptune’s Northern Hemisphere and has remained visible for years, though due to the Hubble Telescope’s limitation, it is uncertain if it still exists. It is believed that dark spots are stable features that can persist for several months, are thought to be vortex features, and former dark spots may continue to exist as cyclones even if they are no longer visible as dark spots.
©2017 Meteorologist Noah Hardy