Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

May 12, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Lightning on Jupiter
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: Does lightning occur only on Earth? Spacecraft in our Solar System have detected radio signals consistent with lightning on other planets, including Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. In the above photograph, optical flashes from Jupiter were photographed recently by the Galileo orbiter. Each of the circled dots indicates lightning. The numbers label lines of latitude. The size of the largest spot is about 500 kilometers across and might be high clouds illuminated by several bright lightning strokes.

Tomorrow's picture: Hale-Bopp's Fickle Ion Tail

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.