So-called “brown barges” are cyclonic storms in Jupiter’s atmosphere that are typically found in the giant planet’s relatively dark North Equatorial Belt but they are occasionally spotted om the South Equatorial Belt as well. The storms are difficult to detect visually because they tend to blend in with the surrounding areas. But occasionally, the darker material in the belt recedes and brown barges become easier to see against the lighter background. This image, capturing a brown barge in the South Equatorial Belt, was captured by NASA’s Juno Jupiter orbiter on 6 September as the probe made its 15th close flyby at a distance of 11,950 kilometres (7,425 miles) from Jupiter’s cloudtops. The color-enhanced JunoCam image was processed by citizen-scientist Kevin M. Gill.
In preparation for the imminent arrival of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, astronomers have used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to obtain spectacular new infrared images of Jupiter as part of a campaign to create high-resolution maps of the giant planet. These observations will help astronomers to better understand the gas giant ahead of Juno’s close encounter next month.
In the early evening of Tuesday, 23 February, the rising waning gibbous Moon — one day after full Moon — lies just 3½ degrees from magnitude -2.5 planet Jupiter low in the eastern sky. Jupiter is closest to Earth on Tuesday, 8 March, so now is the time to get acquainted with the solar system’s largest planet.