Astronomers have seized the opportunity to capture a stunning portrait of Jupiter as it made its closest approach to Earth in a year.
The image was taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope at a distance of 415 million and presents the Great Red Spot in striking detail.
The anti-cyclone is has been spinning since at least its discovery around 150 years ago, but it’s slowly shrinking, for reasons that have eluded astronomers.
Scientists hope Hubble’s observations could help them work out why.
Thanks to its proximity to Earth, stargazers are set for a particularly good view of the planet tonight (7 April). The planet will be visible from dawn to dusk in the Virgo constellation.
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Facts about Jupiter:
Jupiter is a giant ball of gas 11 times wider than Earth and 300 times more massive.
It takes 12 years for Jupiter to orbit the sun but rotates so quickly that a single day lasts just 10 hours.
In many ways Jupiter has its own mini solar system. Its composition is very similar to that of a star: hydrogen and helium, while its sheer size means that it has four large moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) and over 60 smaller objects known to be in orbit.
While you can’t normally see them, Jupiter also has a huge system of rings much like Saturn.
NASA’s Most Famous Images
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