NASA’s Juno spacecraft continues to send back stunning images of the giant planet, including this view captured on 23 May at a distance of 7,900 kilometres (4,900 miles) during the probe’s 13th close flyby. For orientation, south is at upper left while north is toward lower right. The North Temperate Belt is the reddish-orange band just left of center, which rotates in the same direction as the planet. To the left of the belt is the bright North North Temperate Zone with high clouds likely made up of ammonia-ice or, possibly, ammonia ice and water. Darker regions are thought to be areas where clouds extend deeper into the atmosphere with warmer emissions detected by Juno’s infrared senors. Jupiter’s atmospheric bands become less evident toward the north polar regions at lower right where multiple cyclones and darker anticyclones rotate.
In recent nights, observers in the UK and Western Europe have seen the International Space Station (ISS) as a bright naked-eye ‘star’ moving slowly across the sky from west to east. On Thursday, 9 June, London is favoured for some close approaches of the ISS to the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. If you see the Station, spare a thought for Tim Peake and the Expedition 47 crew on board!
Jupiter is two months past opposition on 10 August, so you need to be looking low in the southern sky of the British Isles around sunset if you wish to catch the solar system’s largest planet at its best. If you time it right and the weather obliges, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot makes multiple appearances while the planet’s Galilean moons play hide and seek. Welcome to our August 2019 Jovian observing guide.