“It’s fair to say something unusual happened on Venus.”

Venus' new lookIt’s not just Jupiter that’s sporting a new look, Venus has a new feature too. A bright spot this time. First observed by another amateur, US astronomer Frank Melillo, on the 19th July, and then confirmed by ESA’s Venus Express in orbit around the planet, the spot appeared at least 4 days earlier. You can see it to the lower right of the image from ESA. It’s not thought to be evidence of an impact but, as the New Scientist article points out, “astronomers are not sure what caused it.”

This is not the first time astronomers have spotted bright features in Venus’s atmosphere. Bright spots have been seen from Earth for decades, although they have not been clearly explained, Limaye says.

The most recent dramatic brightening occurred in January 2007, when areas in both the northern and southern hemispheres of the planet brightened. Because it is localised in a spot, this new feature looks different, but it is equally mysterious.