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Phase curves and secondary eclipses of gaseous exoplanets are diagnostic of atmospheric composition and meteorology, and the long observational baseline and high photometric precision from the Kepler mission make its data set well suited for exploring phase curve variability, which provides additional insights into atmospheric dynamics. Observations of the hot Jupiter Kepler-76b span more than 1000 days, providing an ideal data set to search for atmospheric variability. In this study, we find that Kepler-76b's secondary eclipse, with a depth of 87 ± 6 ppm, corresponds to an effective temperature of temperature formula. Our results also show clear indications of variability in Kepler-76b's atmospheric emission and reflectivity, with the phase curve amplitude typically 50.5 ± 1.3 ppm but varying between 35 and 70 ppm over tens of days. As is common for hot Jupiters, Kepler-76b's phase curve shows a discernible offset of (9 ± 1.3)° eastward of the substellar point and varying in concert with the amplitude. These variations may arise from the advance and retreat of thermal structures and cloud formations in Kepler-76b's atmosphere; the resulting thermal perturbations may couple with the super-rotation expected to transport aerosols, giving rise to a feedback loop. Looking forward, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission can provide new insight into planetary atmospheres, with good prospects to observe both secondary eclipses and phase curves among targets from the mission. TESS's increased sensitivity in red wavelengths as compared to Kepler means that it will probably probe different aspects of planetary atmospheres.

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This is the Accepted Manuscript version of an article accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at 10.3847/1538-3881/ab1b30.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.