Jupiter: actual size!

Jupiter: actual size!, originally uploaded by Shiny Things.

That indistinct blob with a dark stripe across the middle isn’t just any indistinct blob with a dark stripe across the middle.

That is Jupiter, shot with my normal camera, totally handheld. With a decent-sized lens, your average SLR today can resolve Jupiter into a disc instead of just a point of light - and probably Mars as well, when it’s close to Earth.

And there are interesting things afoot on Jupiter right now. The planet normally has two dark belts visible from Earth, both of which would be big enough to show up on this photo - but for the last two years, one of the belts has been missing, hidden by white ammonia clouds.

Over the last couple of weeks, though, that “missing” belt has suddenly started to reappear through the clouds. Quoth NASA: “Stripes Are Back In Season On Jupiter”.

NB: Jupiter may not be actual size.