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Fireballs in Jupiter's Atmosphere

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Fireballs in Jupiter's Atmosphere Observed by Amateur Astronomers

The solar system is crowded with small objects like asteroids and comets. Most have stable orbits which keep them out of harm’s way, but a small proportion of them are in orbits that risk them colliding with planets.

The smaller the objects, the more numerous they are, and the more frequent these collisions should occur. Collisions like the recent meteor seen over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013, are rare because the object was relatively large, around 17 meters across.

The giant planet Jupiter -- a big target with tremendous gravitational attraction -- gets hit far more often than the Earth, and these collisions are much faster, happen at a minimum speed of 60 kilometers per second.

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