NASA’s Juno spacecraft continues to beam back spectacular pictures of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, including this stunning view of a dark vortex spinning in a jet stream. It is surrounded by bright, higher-altitude clouds that have “puffed up into the sunlight,” according to a NASA description. The colour-enhanced image was captured 29 May when Juno was about 14,800 kilometres (9,200 miles) above Jupiter’s cloud tops at about 52 degrees north latitude. Citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran processed the image from Juno’s JunoCam instrument and named it Jupiter Abyss. Juno is now more than halfway through its extended mission to study the atmosphere and deep interior of the solar system’s largest planet.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ensure that your telescope is clean and collimated (aligned) to deliver the sharpest images of planet Jupiter at its best. We tell you the optimal UK times to view the largest planet’s Great Red Spot and multiple shadow transits from its Galilean moons.
Early risers in the UK with an unobstructed horizon from southeast through south can see the old crescent Moon close to dazzling Venus in Libra then Jupiter in Ophiuchus over three consecutive mornings starting New Year’s Day around 7am GMT. The brightest and largest planets lie little more than the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length apart at this time.