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.
As dusk fades to dark on Saturday, 11 June, observers in the British Isles should look low in the western sky to see the 7-day-old waxing crescent Moon and Jupiter less than 3 degrees apart, within the same binocular field of view. Get your observations in now as the solar system’s largest planet is poised to leave the celestial stage during the summer.
Unbeknown to two European amateur astronomers 1000 miles apart capturing video of Jupiter through their telescopes in the early hours of Thursday, 17 March, their digital footage would subsequently show confirmation of a totally unexpected phenomenon — the likely impact of a small comet or asteroid on the edge of the solar system’s largest planet.