At Jupiter reality imitates art

Jupiter's south pole, fourth flyby

NASA this week released images taken by Juno during its fourth close fly-by of Jupiter on February 2. The image highlighted by that press release focused on a wide lightly processed view of the south pole, different from the image above. As the release states,

Prior to the Feb. 2 flyby, the public was invited to vote for their favorite points of interest in the Jovian atmosphere for JunoCam to image. The point of interest captured here was titled “Jovian Antarctica” by a member of the public, in reference to Earth’s Antarctica.

The image above, cropped and reduced here, was more heavily processed by another member of the public, and shows more clearly the mad, chaotic storms at the south pole.

What instantly struck me when I saw this however was how much it reminded me of this piece of art, painted in 1889 in France by a man who was slowly going insane.

The Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh never saw the storms on Jupiter, but his imagination conceived their existence in paint. Juno has now imaged them in reality.


  • wayne

    I can’t resist…

    Don McLean
    BBC 1972

  • wayne

    BBC video above, is live-in-studio.
    This version is audio with pictures of all of Van Gogh’s artwork.

    Don McLean

  • eddie willers

    You beat me to it, wayne.

    Great song about a great painter. I once made it to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” and in the same Helen Birch Bartlett collection was Van Gogh’s Bedrooms at Arles. Remarkable.

  • wayne

    eddie willers–
    Good deal!
    -Seurat did the pointillism, correct?
    American Illustrator Virgil Finlay had a similar style.

  • LocalFluff

    I wonder if those clouds would even be visible if one were close. An interstellar nebula is so thin that it becomes invisible when one is inside of it, the nearby Gum nebula actually takes up 40 degrees of the sky but we cannot see it. Jupiter’s atmosphere consists almost only out of hydrogen and helium, and then nitrogen, oxygen and noble gasses which are also invisible to the naked eye. Only tiny traces of carbon and oxygen which as CO and CO2 and CH4 is invisible along with ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and phosphane. All colorless gasses.

    I wonder what it is we really see in those images. I suppose it’s ices and aerosols. While water does have a bluish taint, it is very weak, but we do see white clouds that are much thinner than the ocean. Water clouds are just white or gray, unless rarely sunlight makes them reddish. Jupiter’s sky could be a firework, or thin as air.

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