The Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter’s poles continues to send back jaw-dropping views of the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including this down-the-throat look into a 2,000-kilometre-wide (1,200 miles) cyclonic storm at 49 degrees north latitude. Jupiter is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, but some of the colour in the clouds seen here may be the result of sulphur and phosphorus gases rising from the warmer interior. Citizen-scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this image, captured by the Junocam instrument on 3 November at an altitude of about 8,500 kilometres (5,300 miles) during Juno’s 23rd close flyby.
Whether you’re a casual stargazer or armed with a toolkit of observing gadgets, chances are you have caught a glimpse of Jupiter this year beckoning as one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s about to get its first visitor in nearly a decade, when NASA’s Juno spacecraft rockets into orbit.
Skywatchers in the UK and Western Europe should look low to the south-southeast an hour before sunrise on 31 January to see a beautiful naked-eye conjunction of Venus, the old crescent Moon and Jupiter, all within a span of 8½ degrees. But if you have a telescope and live in just the right place, you can also see the Moon hide a double star.