On this page, you'll be asked to track down some specific data about Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. (Hint: After you read the page, you might want to print it out. That way you can look at the questions and instructions while you are searching for information on other sites.) You can download any images or movies that you come across during your research. If you find any facts that are especially interesting, make a note of them. You might want to use these facts, along with some of the images you download, to make your own SL9 Web page later.
The Reference Shelf is a good place to begin your research. As you follow links to other sites, you'll probably find that some sites are better than others. Keep track of any Web sites you think are really good, in case you want to link them to your own Web page.
- Before it collided with Jupiter, for how many years do scientists believe SL9 had orbited the planet? About how many years did it take for the comet to orbit Jupiter once?
- What system did scientists use to name each fragment of SL9? Which fragment was thought to be the largest, and why?
- The impacts occurred on the far side of Jupiter, from Earth's perspective. How were we able to observe the effects of the collision? How long did scientists on Earth have to wait to get a look at the impact sites?
- What was the predicted date and time of impact of fragment Q1? When did it actually hit?
- Describe what happened when a fragment hit Jupiter.
- The Hubble Space Telescope was used to observe activities on Jupiter during the comet's impact. What unusual events involving Jupiter's aurorae (glowing gases in the atmosphere) did HST reveal? What comet fragment caused this activity?
- What have scientists learned from data collected after the comet's impact? Specifically, what have they learned about Jupiter's wind patterns?
- As you research the answers to these questions, keep track of any other interesting facts you come across. You can use these to create your own Web page or just share them with your classmates.
- Now it's time to start downloading some images and movies.
Any Web site devoted to SL9 will have lots of images you can download, or it will have links to places where you can download them. One example is the list of Top 20 SL9 Images on the Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 Web page.
Depending on what kind of computer and browser you're using, you'll have to use a slightly different procedure to download an image onto your hard drive. Here's how you would do it on a PC, using a browser like Internet Explorer:
- Use your mouse to position the pointer over the image.
- Hold down the button on the mouse until you see a menu. Keep the button down and move the pointer to "Save image as..."
- Let go of the button, and you'll see a dialog box that lets you choose where you want to put the image and what you want to call it. If you decide to change the name of the file, make sure your new name ends in .gif (This will be important if you use the image on your own Web page).
- Click on "Save" (or hit the return key), and the image will be downloaded onto your hard drive.
Now you're ready to start! But don't download every image you see. You'll take up a lot of space on your hard drive if you grab dozens of images. Select just a few—perhaps your own "Top Five" list—that you think are the most interesting or spectacular.
Downloading movies from the Internet is even easier than downloading images. Usually you just have to click on a hotlinked icon or word, and it happens automatically. Before you start shopping for movies, though, here are some things to keep in mind:
- You'll need software to play any movies you download. The most common movie player is Quicktime. If you don't already have this on your computer, you can download a Macintosh or Windows version of it from the Web for free.
- Movies are large files that take a long time to travel over phone lines. A 2.5 megabyte movie, for example, might take up to 40 minutes to download. During this time, you won't be able to use your computer for anything else. Once the movie arrives, it will of course take up space on your hard drive. So, you probably won't want to download too many movies. Choose carefully, and try to start the downloading process before you leave for lunch or leave school for the day.
- Don't expect the quality of a Quicktime movie to match what you see on your television screen. Because movies take so much time to download, people usually try to make the files as small as possible before posting them up the Web. Reducing the file size means reducing the quality of the movie. The picture will probably look pretty grainy and move in a jerky way. But for the privilege of watching such an awesome event as the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact, we really can't complain!
Return to the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Activities.