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Hubble sees Jupiter erupt with storms big enough to swallow Earth

18 Sep 2020, 13:00 UTC
Hubble sees Jupiter erupt with storms big enough to swallow Earth
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In July, Jupiter, the solar system's biggest planet, reached opposition. That's when it's opposite the Sun in the sky, which is important for two reasons. One is that it rises when the Sun sets, so it's up all night, making it easier to observe.

More importantly, that means that's when Earth and Jupiter are closest together in space — think of it like the Earth passing Jupiter on the inside lane — so the planet appears biggest in the eyepiece as well.

And when your eyepiece is the Wide Field Camera 3 on Hubble Space Telescope, well, the view is pretty dang nice.

Jupiter (and its noon Europa to the upper left) captured by Hubble in visible light on 25 August 2020. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M. H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL team.

Wow. This image was taken in visible light on 25 August 2020, just a few weeks after opposition. It's part of an ongoing program called OPAL (Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy) to use Hubble to take images of the solar system four giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) once per year or so to keep up with ...

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