Hubble's view of the largest planet in the solar system — Opposing Jupiter

James Marshall
April 9, 2017

Today Jupiter will come into opposition, the point at which the planet is located directly opposite the Sun in the sky.

In conjunction with its moons, Jupiter's gravitational field controls numerous asteroids that have settled into the areas of the Lagrangian points preceding and following Jupiter planet in the orbit around the Sun. Jupiter will appear within the constellation Virgo, according to Earthsky.org.

"The reason that the viewing is so good is that we're at opposition, and so that's when Jupiter is the biggest in the sky, the closest to us", says NASA Scientist Dr. Amy Simon. It's an opportune time for the Hubble Space Telescope to aim toward Jupiter and capture the attractive image you're seeing above.

Jupiter is at its brightest when it's in opposition.

Though space probes such as NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft, Galileo and Juno can gather a lot of data as they approach the planet, Hubble has certain advantages. It really is visible towards the naked eye at night sky and can occasionally be seen within the daytime when the Sun is lower. At dawn, they set in the west. From the images obtained, OPAL hopes to create maps that planetary scientists can study long after Hubble is decommissioned. The picture "reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter's clouds as arranged into bands of different latitudes". The next one is expected to happen in May next year. In an image released Thursday by the administration, fine details of the Jupiter's atmosphere are visible, including its famous red spot. "We're learning what powers it". Back in 2012, it was even suggested that the Giant Red Spot might eventually disappear, and this latest evidence seems to confirm that. Jovian high- and low-pressure systems can both form storms. The pair shines all night, appearing high in the southern sky at 1 a.m.

Skywatchers, Friday night is your best chance of the year to get a close look at the biggest planet in our solar system. How much do you know about the king of the planets?

The largest of these - the Great Red Spot - is believed to have been raging on the surface ever since it was first observed in the 1600s.

The planet Jupiter has been acknowledged since ancient times. The most famous, the Great Red Spot, is thought to have been swirling around for more than 150 years, and even though it's unclear which gasses give it that red hue, it's the planet's most recognizable feature.

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