Stargazer creates storm of interest
Tuesday, 15th April, 2014
By Nick Gibbs
Planetary scientists from around the world are abuzz with excitement thanks to the work of a local amateur astronomer.
With the help of his custom designed and built backyard observatory, Trevor Barry has collected over 14 months of data following a series of curious weather activities on Saturn.
A dark vortex forming in the turbulence of a hexagonal storm cell might sound like something from a sci-fi thriller but, according to Mr Barry, this event is what prompted international interest in the planet.
In June 2011, the vortex or “anticylcone” drifted 360 degrees around Saturn and collided with the head of the storm causing both to shrink significantly.
While scientists concluded this to be the end of the event, imaging from Mr Barry’s telescope proved the vortex had survived and continues to remain active.
“It could be the first permanent anticyclone on Saturn,” Mr Barry said.
The significance of the find has paved the way for the former BH miner to be featured in a peer reviewed journal and prompted an invitation to speak at the National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers in Melbourne this weekend.
The opportunity will allow Mr Barry to meet his collaborators dotted around the globe.
“The only way I’m ever going to meet these people if they come to Australia,” he said.
“I’m a globetrotter but I never have to leave Broken Hill.”
The research also features on the web TV program “Astronomy and Space,” a monthly broadcast for amateur astronomers which can be seen at astronomytvprogramme.blogspot.co.uk
“It gives Broken Hill the big plug as well,” Mr Barry said.