Jupiter to beam in the night sky this weekend

Posted April 08, 2017

Jupiter is best known for the Great Red Spot, an anticyclone storm larger than the Earth that has raged for at least 150 years. The gas giant's intricate bands of swirling clouds are on full display in a new Hubble Space Telescope close-up portrait. You can also see white spots speckling the planet's cloud tops.

To the naked eye, Jupiter appears as a very bright star, but with a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see details on the planet and spot its four largest moons.

According to NASA, Jupiter will be in the closest proximity to Earth on April 7 than any other days of 2017, making it look bigger than the normal days.

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The Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back a close up image of Jupiter showing its famous Great Red Spot and several colourful bands, running parallel to the equator, the European Space Agency (ESA) said today.

It is called an anticyclonic storm because it rotates in the opposite direction that a traditional storm should - counter-clockwise, when a southern hemisphere storm should rotate clockwise. Because of its similar appearance but much smaller size it was dubbed "Red Spot Junior".

Consider this a great excuse to head out and simply look up. This is a mystery for all astronomers.

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Hubble's views of Jupiter are lovely, but we have an even closer camera to snap images with, on board NASA's Juno spacecraft.

Usually, the lighter bands tend to raise higher, having thicker clouds in comparison to darker bands. The ghostly bluish streak across the right half of the image is a long-lived storm, one of the few structures perceptible in these whitened latitudes where the south temperate belt of Jupiter would normally be. This means that the next time Jupiter will be again as close to Eath as it is now, it will be in May 2018.

This image of Jupiter was taken when the planet was at a distance of 670 million kilometres from Earth. Often the orbits of most of the system's planets lie closer to Jupiter's orbital plane than the Sun's equatorial plane. These unprocessed photos were made available for amateur astronomers to process, giving them the chance to turn the blurry, gray images of the gas giant into colorful photos.

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