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NASA's Hubble space telescope captures Jupiter

NASA's Hubble space telescope captures Jupiter

Interestingly, for the first time in a dozen years, opposition comes when Jupiter is just past aphelion (the farthest point from the sun during planet's orbit, where Jupiter was on February 16).

That's when Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in 2017.

Jupiter gets around 601 million miles from Earth at its most farthest.

If the skies are clear, you can't miss Jupiter: It looks like a super-bright star - rising in the east after sunset, reaching its highest point around midnight, and setting in the west as the sun is rising.

Famous Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is certainly excited about it! The Great Red Spot is mysteriously shrinking, and Hubble is one of the tools scientists use to monitor these changes.

Shaped by powerful storms and vortices, the planet's roiling atmosphere is divided into several distinct and colourful bands parallel to the equator. On April 6, NASA officials stated that these colorful, awesome bands which display alternative wind motions are determined by the differences which occur in the height and thickness of the ammonia ice clouds.

The bands are separated by winds that can reach speeds of up to 400 miles per hour (644 kph).

This April 3, 2016 image made available by NASA shows the planet Jupiter when it was at a distance of about 668 million kilometers (415 million miles) from Earth.

Today, Earth is planting itself almost right between the sun and Jupiter, the first time this year as Jupiter nears its closest approach to Earth.

"We move slowly enough through space where you'll be able to see it for awhile", Smith said, though he added Jupiter will likely be at its very brightest in the near future. Also, the gas giant planet's famous Great Red Spot is fully visible, accenting the surface of Jupiter.

This happens every 13 months, according to earthsky.org, leading to a named event called the "opposition of Jupiter". What that means is, rather than winds swirling inward towards a low-pressure centre, the Great Red Spot (at least at the top, where we can see it) has winds that swirl outward, away from a high pressure centre. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope.

On Saturday, the planet Jupiter will be in opposition with Sun and will be closest to the Earth on Sunday than in any part of this year. In 2018, it will begin viewing Saturn.

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