A remarkably close view of the solar system's largest planet has prompted scientists to train the Hubble telescope at it.
Astronomers are getting an eye-popping view of Jupiter thanks to the fact that the huge gas giant is now at its closest point of the year, prompting scientists to position the Hubble Space Telescope to get a better view of it. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system is now at “opposition,” meaning that it is in a straight line with the Earth and the sun, affording some of the best and clearest views possible from here on Earth.
You can find Jupiter above the constellation Virgo in the southern sky, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere. Jupiter got to its closest point, about 415 million miles from Earth, on Friday night, but it will not be significantly farther away this weekend if you still want to get a glimpse through your telescope at it.
Hubble is able to provide some amazing pictures of the planet’s signature cloud bands. You can watch a video of the footage embedded below at the bottom of this post.
“On April 3, 2017, as Jupiter made its nearest approach to Earth in a year, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope viewed the solar system’s largest planet in all of its up-close glory,” NASA said in a statement. “At a distance of 415 million miles (668 million kilometers) from Earth, Jupiter offered spectacular views of its colorful, roiling atmosphere, the legendary Great Red Spot, and it smaller companion at farther southern latitudes dubbed “Red Spot Jr.”
“The giant planet is now at “opposition,” positioned directly opposite the sun from the Earth. This means that the sun, Earth and Jupiter line up, with Earth sitting between the sun and the gas giant. Opposition also marks Jupiter’s closest point to us, and the planet appears brighter in the night sky than at any other time in the year.”