NASA’s Juno spacecraft is the first to capture clear images of Jupiter’s polar regions and in this extreme false-colour view, a striking ring of cyclones ranging in size from 4,000 to 4,600 kilometres across (2,500 to 2,900 miles) surround a huge, persistent polar storm. A similar pattern is present in the giant planet’s south polar regions. Citizen-scientist Gerald Eichstädt assembled this composite image using JunoCam data captured during four close passes of the probe by Jupiter between 17 February and 25 July. The exaggerated colour is partly the result of combining multiple images into a single composite. Says NASA: “The colour choices in this image reveal both the beauty of Jupiter and the subtle details present in Jupiter’s dynamic cloud structure. Each new observation that Juno provides of Jupiter’s atmosphere complements computer simulations and helps further refine our understanding of how the storms evolve over time.”
Before sunrise on Thursday 19 January, observers in Western Europe can see an interesting celestial conjunction in the southern sky. At about 6am local time, the waning gibbous Moon, largest planet Jupiter and Spica — the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo — all lie in a line encompassed by the field of view of a typical 7x or 8x binocular.