We’re Up All Night

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Behold: the mighty gas giant Jupiter getting its Hallowe’en pumpkin on: captured in infrared by astronomers at the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii. To wit:

Gemini was able to produce such a clear image using a technique called lucky imaging, by taking many images and combining only the clearest ones that, by chance, were taken when Earth’s atmosphere was the most calm. Jupiter’s jack-o’-lantern-like appearance is caused by the planet’s different layers of clouds. Infrared light can pass through clouds better than visible light, allowing us to see deeper, hotter layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere, while the thickest clouds appear dark. These pictures, together with ones from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Juno spacecraft, can tell us a lot about weather patterns on Jupiter, like where its massive, planet-sized storms form.

(Image: International Gemini Observatory, NOIRLab, NSF, AURA; M. H. Wong (UC Berkeley) & Team; Acknowledgment: Mahdi Zamani; Text: Alex R. Howe (NASA/USRA, Reader’s History of SciFi Podcast)

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