Hubble Space Telescope provides a new portrait of Jupiter

Photo: Jupiter as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter’s clouds in this new image taken on June 27, 2019 by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, when the planet was 644 million kilometers from Earth — its closest distance this year. The image features the planet’s trademark Great Red Spot and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in the planet’s turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years.
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) Click here for full-size image!

Among the most striking features in the image are the rich colors of the clouds moving toward the Great Red Spot. This huge anticyclonic storm is roughly the diameter of Earth and is rolling counterclockwise between two bands of clouds that are moving in opposite directions toward it.

As with previous images of Jupiter taken by Hubble, and other observations from telescopes on the ground, the new image confirms that the huge storm which has raged on Jupiter’s surface for at least 150 years continues to shrink. The reason for this is still unknown so Hubble will continue to observe Jupiter in the hope that scientists will be able to solve this stormy riddle. Much smaller storms appear on Jupiter as white or brown ovals that can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries.

The worm-shaped feature located south of the Great Red Spot is a cyclone, a vortex spinning in the opposite direction to that in which the Great Red Spot spins. Researchers have observed cyclones with a wide variety of different appearances across the planet. The two white oval features are anticyclones, similar to small versions of the Great Red Spot.

The Hubble image also highlights Jupiter’s distinct parallel cloud bands. These bands consist of air flowing in opposite directions at various latitudes. They are created by differences in the thickness and height of the ammonia ice clouds; the lighter bands rise higher and have thicker clouds than the darker bands. The different concentrations are kept separate by fast winds which can reach speeds of up to 650 kilometers per hour.

These observations of Jupiter form part of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, which began in 2014. This initiative allows Hubble to dedicate time each year to observing the outer planets and provides scientists with access to a collection of maps, which helps them to understand not only the atmospheres of the giant planets in the Solar System, but also the atmosphere of our own planet and of the planets in other planetary systems.

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CAA at Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration

Photo: After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Photo by James Guilford.
After sunset scopes pointed skyward and offered views of planets Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Lakewood Solstice Celebration 2016. Credit: James Guilford.

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will, once again, be a major activity at the city of Lakewood’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration. The event takes place in Lakewood Park and on the park’s lakefront Solstice Steps feature on Thursday, June 21 from 6:00 to 10:30 PM.

Operating within the constraints of sunlight and twilight viewing conditions, club members will set up their telescopes and offer public viewing of Sun, Moon, and planets. Planets Venus and Jupiter will be readily visible, given clear skies, as will be the Waxing Gibbous Moon. Some fainter objects may be viewed later.

CAA member Jay Reynolds is coordinating the club’s participation with organizers of the very popular celebration.

An event flyer is available here: Lakewood Summer Solstice Celebration

Public observing night at Letha House September 9

Photo: Saturn, by Rochus Hess
Saturn. Credit: Rochus Hess

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will host a public star party this Saturday (Sept. 9) from 8:00 to 10:00 PM at the Medina County Park District’s at Letha House Park (West). The club’s observatory will be open and CAA members will offer viewing through their personally-owned telescopes.

The weather forecast is looking good for Saturday.  If skies are clear, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune will be visible at dusk. Later, Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune will be visible.
The waning Gibbous Moon will clear the horizon at 10:15.  When the sky grows dark enough, and before moonrise, there about 30 Messier objects visible. Messier objects include such things as brighter star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies.

July 29: A great night for stargazers

Photo: Astronomers with their telescopes. Photo by Alan Studt.
Under Starry Skies – Photo by Alan Studt

by William Murmann, CAA President

We had one of our most successful public star parties for the Medina County Park District last night (July 29) at Letha House. I don’t have an exact count, but I think 100 or more guests came for the event under great clear skies and mild temperatures. The parking lot was full. Lots of young families came with children, many of whom got their first look at the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and other objects through a telescope.

Photo: Waxing Crescent Moon, July 29, 2017. Photo by James Guilford.
Waxing Crescent Moon dominated the sky for the CAA’s Public Night. Photo by James Guilford.

Many thanks to all who helped! Observatory Director Jay Reynolds had a busy night showing the night sky with our 12-inch and 8-inch scopes. Education Director Nora Mishey spent the whole evening in the building, talking with folks about her educational astronomy displays, sharing home-baked cookies, and discussing our club. Three platters of Nora’s cookies quickly disappeared.

Photo: Woman using telescope in red-lit observatory under starry sky.
“First-light” observing with the just-completed eight-inch Meade. Photo by Alan Studt

 

 

 

 

We had 14 scopes at the event. Two of them were brought by nonmembers who hopefully will join our club. I was busy during the evening talking with people and showing the Moon with my scope, so I may not have a complete list of members who helped. If I missed anyone, please let me know.

Photo: Group pauses to watch a passage of the International Space Station. Photo by James Guilford.
Watching the Space Station. Photo by James Guilford.

A big thank you for helping to VP Tim Campbell, Bob Wiersma, James Guilford, Alan Studt, Rich & Nancy Whisler, Bill & Carol Lee, Carl Kudrna, Dave Nuti, Chris Christie, Bruce Lane, Jay Reynolds, Nora Mishey, and me. If you were there and I missed you, please let me know.

Thanks again everyone!

May Public Night

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Bob Wiersma talks telescopes and astronomy with a family at CAA’s Telescope Night
Many thanks to fellow club members who joined me to help with our public star party at Letha House Saturday night.  In spite of partly cloudy skies, we had a good turnout with about 30 guests joining us for the program–including 5 or 6 guests who brought their telescopes from home to get help in using their equipment.
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Explaining the operation of a nice reflector kit received as a gift from man’s wife
CAA members who helped with the program included: Jay Reynolds, Rich & Nancy Whisler, Bill & Carol Lee, Tim Campbell, Bob Wiersma, Ray Love, Carl Kudrna, Suzie Dills, Gus Waffen, Dave Nuti, Nora Mishey, Dave Watkins, and Bruce Lane.
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Sisters learn about their telescope and aim for the Moon.
Apologies for missing anyone.  If I missed you, thanks for your help and please let me know who you are!
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Mother and son get a look at Jupiter courtesy of Jay Reynolds and the CAA’s big SCT.
Special thanks to Jay, who spent the evening showing guests the night sky in our observatory, and to Nora Mishey who greeted and talked with guests and managed our display of astronomical materials inside the Letha House shelter.
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Nora Mishey set up a fine and impressive display in the Letha House Park meeting room that most missed – the wonders of the sky were too alluring!
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This big telescope provided views of Jupiter and moon Io casting its shadow on an equatorial cloud belt; Io’s changing position was observed over the course of the evening.
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Simulated view shows Io casting its shadow on planet Jupiter – seen via larger scopes at the star party! – Simulation by Gas Giants iOS app.
Thanks again, folks!  See you June 3 for our next public star party for the Medina County Park District!  — William Murmann, CAA President

Spectacular view of Jupiter, courtesy Juno

Photo: South Polar Region of Jupiter
South Polar Region of Jupiter

This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection.

JunoCam’s raw images are available at http://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam for the public to peruse and process into image products. More information about Juno is online at http://www.nasa.gov/juno

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

After five years, Juno nears its destination

Image: This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Juno mission, launched nearly five years ago, will soon reach its final destination: the most massive planet in our solar system, Jupiter. On the evening of July 4, at roughly 9 PM PDT (12 AM EDT, July 5), the spacecraft will complete a burn of its main engine, placing it in orbit around the king of planets.

During Juno’s orbit-insertion phase, or JOI, the spacecraft will perform a series of steps in preparation for a main engine burn that will guide it into orbit. At 9:16 PM EDT (July 4), Juno will begin to turn slowly away from the sun and toward its orbit-insertion attitude. Then 72 minutes later, it will make a faster turn into the orbit-insertion attitude.

At 10:41 PM EDT, Juno switches to its low-gain antenna. Fine-tune adjustments are then made to the spacecraft’s attitude. Twenty-two minutes before the main engine burn, at 10:56 PM, the spacecraft spins up from two to five revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it for the orbit insertion burn.

At 11:18 PM, Juno’s 35-minute main-engine burn will begin. This will slow it enough to be captured by the giant planet’s gravity. The burn will impart a mean change in velocity of 1,212 MPH (542 meters a second) on the spacecraft. It is performed in view of Earth, allowing its progress to be monitored by the mission teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, via signal reception by Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

After the main engine burn early July 5 (Eastern Daylight Time), Juno will be in orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will spin down from five to two RPM, turn back toward the sun, and ultimately transmit telemetry via its high-gain antenna. At Jupiter’s current distance of 536.9 million miles from Earth, radio signals will take about 48 minutes to reach the DSN.

Juno starts its tour of Jupiter in a 53.5-day orbit. The spacecraft saves fuel by executing a burn that places it in a capture orbit with a 53.5-day orbit instead of going directly for the 14-day orbit that will occur during the mission’s primary science collection period. The 14-day science orbit phase will begin after the final burn of the mission for Juno’s main engine on October 19.

JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. The mission’s principal investigator is Scott Bolton of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The mission is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

Learn more about the June mission, and get an up-to-date schedule of events, at:

http://www.nasa.gov/juno

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/junotoolkit