The universe is a fascinating place, and to call it that — a mere place — is perhaps a mistake, because it's not just a place. It's a cosmic hodgepodge of hot and cold, of distant and near, of bright and dark, and everything in between.
It is vast, mysterious, and much of it humans will never fully understand, only attempt to guess. But often humans get to see images like the one below that simply reveals what the universe has in store.
The photo shows Jovian clouds in striking shades of blue, taken on Oct. 24 by NASA's Juno spacecraft when it was only 11,747 miles, or 18,906 kilometers, away from the tops of clouds on Jupiter. That's roughly the distance between New York City and Perth, Australia. Make sure to hit the link to view it in its full resolution.
It is, quite literally, otherworldly. Take a look:
Photo Of Jupiter Clouds Or A Painting?
Each pixel represents 7.75 miles/pixel, or 12 kilometers/pixel, making for a stunning display of semi-whorls and dark, ominous patterns. In fact, it's so beautiful that without knowing it's actually a photo of Jupiter, one could easily mistake it as a just-discovered Vincent van Gogh painting. It looks like drops of vibrant oils in a puddle of water, showcasing just how complex Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere is.
Jupiter's weather has long been an intriguing subject. Its Great Red Spot, for instance, is a massive storm that's been unstoppably raging for 350 years, and probably will continue for a long time.
Shown above is the northern hemisphere of Jupiter, with Juno nearly three-fifths of the way from the equator to its north pole. The photo was taken during the spacecraft's ninth flyby. It's a marvelous display in large part because the timing was perfect: at the time of capture, the Juno-Jupiter-Sun angle, according to NASA, paved the way for higher-altitude clouds to cast shadows on their surroundings.
"The behavior is most easily observable in the whitest regions in the image, but also in a few isolated spots in both the bottom and right areas of the image," said NASA.
NASA provided the photo via the JunoCam image hosting site, which was then further processed by some scientists who improved parts of the image and applied color enhancements as well. The result is a stunning, beautiful example of things in the universe beyond explanation.
Let this photo be a daily reminder that beauty comes in all sorts of places, even ones that are unreachable and inaccessible.
Thoughts about Jupiter's clouds? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!