It’s always nice to see an amateur science enthusiast lay claim to their fifteen minutes of fame. There’s just something heartwarming about knowing that even with the world of science becoming more and more advanced and more and more specialized, there’s still room for someone with a little bit of equipment, a healthy curiosity about the world around them and a liberal dose of free time on their hands to discover something worthwhile.

With that in mind, we welcome Frank Melillo of Holtsville, New York to the limelight. Melillo is the dilettante stargazer who called the attention of astronomers around the world to a huge bright mark now visible in the clouds surrounding the planet Venus.

Data from the ESA’s Venus Express probe suggests that the spot appeared several day before it was spotted from Earth, And that it has been expanding since. This sort of mark in the less than stable cloud cover surrounding Venus isn’t necessarily unusual, but the scale of it is.

Some researchers speculate the marks are created by volcanic eruptions on the surface of the planet, as opposed to the dark mark that has recently been made on Jupiter by a comet collision. But to affect the atmosphere like it has, this most recent bright spot would have had to be one doozy of an eruption.

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