During April 2017 Jupiter is in opposition: it is at its closest to Earth and the hemisphere facing Earth is fully illuminated by the Sun. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope used this special configuration to capture an image of what is by far the largest planet in the Solar System. This image adds to many others made in the past, and together they allow astronomers to study changes in the atmosphere of the gas giant.
On 7 April Jupiter will come into opposition, the point at which the planet is located directly opposite the Sun in the sky. This means that the Sun, Earth and Jupiter line up, with Earth sitting in between the Sun and the gas giant.
Opposition also marks the planet’s closest approach to Earth — about 670 million kilometres — so that Jupiter appears brighter in the night sky than at any other time in the year. This event allows astronomers using telescopes in space and on the ground to see more detail in the atmosphere of Jupiter.
On 3 April Hubble took advantage of this favourable alignment and turned its sharp eye towards Jupiter to add to the collection of images of our massive neighbour. Hubble observed Jupiter using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which allows observations in ultraviolet, visible and infrared light. The final image shows a sharp view of Jupiter and reveals a wealth of features in its dense atmosphere. As it is so close, Hubble can resolve features as small as about 130 kilometres across. … (Hubble)