On 31 May, Clyde Foster, an amateur astronomer of Centurion, South Africa, noticed what appeared to be a bright new spot, a presumed storm, on Jupiter, just below and to the right of the Great Red Spot. Two days later, NASA’s Juno spacecraft carried out its 27th close flyby of the giant planet, capturing a sharp view of the new storm, informally dubbed “Clyde’s Spot.” According to NASA, the feature is a plume of material erupting above Jupiter’s top-most cloud layers, a convective outbreak like others occasionally seen in the South Temperate Belt. Citizen-scientist Kevin M. Gill created this image of Jupiter, the Great Red Spot and Clyde’s Spot combining five Juno images taken on 2 June when the spacecraft was between 45,000 kilometres (28,000 miles) and 95,000 kilometres (59,000 miles) above Jupiter’s cloud tops.
Skywatchers in Western Europe looking at the rising 13-day-old gibbous Moon in the south-southeast at dusk on Sunday, 27 May can also see prime-time Jupiter within the same binocular field of view. But look closer in the vicinity of the solar system’s largest planet and you’ll see an easily resolved double star – alpha Librae.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a high-speed pass less than 3,000 miles over Jupiter’s turbulent clouds Thursday, taking dozens of pictures, measuring radiation and plasma waves, and peering deep inside the planet’s atmosphere, but officials still have not cleared the orbiter’s main engine for a planned maneuver to position the probe for improved science observations.
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.