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Emmense Eye Opener: Spooky Shadow Play Gives Jupiter a Giant Eye

NASA's Hubble Space Telescopeoften treats astronomers to gorgeous close-up views of the eerie outer planets. But it's a bit of a trick having the planet look back at you! This happened on April 21, 2014, when Hubble was observing Jupiter to monitor changes in it's immense Great Red Spot (GRS) storm. During the exposures, the shadow of the Jovian moon Ganymede swept across the center of the GRS. Ganymede itself was out of view in the Hubble picture. Ganymede's shadow, however, gave the giant planet the uncanny appearance of having a pupil in the center of a 10,000-mile-diameter "eye." Momentarily, Jupiter took on the appearance of a Cyclops planet!

Jupiter's four major satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and their shadows routinely cross the face of Jupiter. This natural-color picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)