The Great Red Spot on Jupiter might one day be the Average Red Spot; NASA says it's shrinking at a rate of 580 miles a year, the distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C.
For at least 400 years, NPR says, the anticyclonic vortex has been churning in the atmosphere of the planet, a gigantic storm that is big enough to engulf three Earths. As it gets smaller, the shape begins to shift as well, and by 2040 it could become circular. In 1979, the Great Red Spot was 14,500 miles across, in 1995 it was 13,020 miles across, and by 2009 it was down to 11,130 miles across. Now, it's 10,250 miles along the east-west axis.
NASA hypothesizes that the Great Red Spot is shrinking because "very small eddies are feeding into the storm." Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center adds that the eddies are possibly "altering the internal dynamics and energy of the Great Red Spot." Simon and the rest of her team will study the eddies and the storm's internal dynamics to get to the bottom of "this yet unexplained shrinkage." Catherine Garcia
Jimmy Fallon has been singing bits and pieces of Styx's "Too Much Time on My Hands" on The Tonight Show for days. On Friday, he and actor Paul Rudd took the obsession to its natural conclusion, creating a shot-by-shot remake of the '80s music video. The end result is sufficiently goofy. Take a look below. Julie Kliegman
Hundreds of activists stormed Iraq's parliament building Saturday in support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had accused Iraqi politicians of corruption, CBS News reports.
The demonstrators climbed over blast walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the countries ministries and foreign embassies, after parliament couldn't reach quorum to hold a session. The protesters broke furniture, chanted, and waved Iraqi flags.
San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr released nine pages of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers Friday and ordered all offers to undergo anti-bias training, The New York Times reports.
"We have nothing to hide," Suhr said of his 2,000-member force. "These are the actions of a few."
The messages, which disparaged blacks, Latinos, South Asians, and LGBT people, were found as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.
The head of an evangelical legal organization has pledged to carry a gun into Target's bathrooms to defend against transgender women. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver is calling for a boycott of the retail chain after it announced that it will allow patrons to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, The Huffington Post reports. Staver tweeted the following:
— Anita Staver (@AnitaStaver) April 22, 2016
Staver later claimed she always brings guns into public restrooms.
A Copycat Art Scratcher (approximately $190) is expensive as scratching posts go, but buying one a month is "a lot cheaper than your cat destroying an actual priceless piece of artwork," says Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo. Dutch designer Erik Stehmann had lost only an embroidered painting to his pets' claws when he decided he might be able to rechannel their artistic interests and did so by reproducing famous paintings on embroidered twine. A replica of the Mona Lisa will be the first scratchboard offered when the product begins shipping in May. Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring will soon follow.
Syria called local truces Friday, but put no end to the violence in Aleppo deemed "monstrous" by the United Nations, Reuters reports.
The death toll from a Wednesday airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital has risen to at least 50 people. On Friday, rebel forces reportedly fired mortar rounds into a mosque, killing at least 15 people. More than 200 people have been killed in Aleppo in the last week by pro-government and rebel forces, The Washington Post reports.
Peace talks aimed at establishing a cease-fire recently collapsed. Julie Kliegman
A friend of alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal officials and withholding information about the attack. Joey Meek faces up to eight years in prison and $500,000 in fines, The New York Times reports.
He agreed to testify against Roof, who is accused of fatally shooting nine black people in a Bible study at a Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June. Roof had claimed to have been planning the attack more than six months in advance, Meek said.