Lifestyle & Belief

Jupiter rising spurs emergency rescue


Jupiter is pictured July 23, 2009.


NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO

In north-east England, a rescue search was carried out Monday night after a member of the public mistook the planet Jupiter for a distress flare.

A RAF rescue helicopter and rescue boat were called out to search for a possible vessel in distress six miles off the coast of Tynemouth Longsands, the BBC reported.

The Tynemouth RNLI website said the incident occurred as its volunteer crew were holding their annual meeting at the lifeboat station.

The coastguard ordered the launch of the all weather lifeboat at 7:45pm local time after the “distress flare” was sighted.

But after an extensive search, it emerged that the largest planet in the Solar System, which is visible low on the horizon this time of year, had been playing tricks on the locals.

The BBC quoted one Tynemouth RNLI volunteer Adrian Don:

As the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade spoke further to the member of the public it became apparent that the flares were in fact the planet Jupiter which is very low in the sky at this time of year, but was also partly covered by clouds which possibly gave it the appearance of a flare.

The RNLI stresses that although this was a false alarm it was made with the best intentions, and urges anyone who thinks they've seen anyone possibly in distress at sea to do the same.

Jupiter is, on average, the the third-brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.

According to the National Geographic, the Earth's orbit “laps” that of Jupiter's every 13 months. The next lapping will occur on October 29, when Jupiter will be in prime viewing position around midnight.