Jupiter extra close, extra bright last week

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Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) – Jupiter was extra close and extra bright last week, and that means some amazing, new close-ups.

The Hubble Space Telescope zoomed in on the solar system giant Monday, April 3, and NASA released the pictures < http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-15 > Thursday. Jupiter was a relatively close 415 million miles (668 million kilometers) away.

This 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. Jupiter was extra close and extra bright last week, and the Hubble Space Telescope took advantage of the opportunity to make this photo of the gas giant. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC) via AP)
This 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. Jupiter was extra close and extra bright last week, and the Hubble Space Telescope took advantage of the opportunity to make this photo of the gas giant. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC) via AP)

The planet’s Great Red Spot is especially vivid. It’s a storm big enough to swallow Earth, but is mysteriously shrinking. Hubble’s ongoing observations may help explain why. Also visible in the photos is Red Spot Jr.

On Friday, April 7, Jupiter was in opposition. That’s when Jupiter, Earth and the sun all line up, with Earth in the middle. Jupiter appeared brighter than usual – the brightest all year.