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.
Observers with a clear sky to the south as darkness falls on Sunday 7 May can see the 12-day-old waxing gibbous Moon and planet Jupiter separated by little more than twice the width of a full Moon. For telescope owners in the UK, this is a night where you can also see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and the planet’s four large Galilean moons.
Jupiter is now less than a month from opposition (7 April), so it’s very much open season for the Solar System’s largest planet. If you’re unsure where to find it, the rising 17-day-old waning gibbous Moon passes just two degrees from Jupiter on the UK evening of 14 March. Virgo’s brightest star, first-magnitude Spica, makes it a great binocular triumvirate.