A Heavenly Menage à Trois

Jupiter and Io captured by space probe Cassini

Jupiter and its moon Io

A couple of weeks ago, Jupiter had a lovely menage à trois: a spectacular triple eclipse. Three of its big moons — Europa, Callisto, and Io (shown above) — passed in front of the huge planet at the same time….and like dedicated voyeurs do, the Hubble Telescope got it all on camera. Gas giant Jupiter has 62 moons, so eclipses aren’t exactly a special occasion, but having three of its four superstar moons show up at the same time IS a special occasion. Only Ganymede (my personal fave) couldn’t stay for the fun. Imagine: if you had been standing on Jupiter, you would’ve peeped three solar eclipses at once. Side note: the moon Europa is kind of a big deal. Astronomers think that there’s life in the incredibly deep oceans under its icy surface….life as we know it, that is.

See it happen! At 00:07 look for the shadows of the 3 moons on Jupiter’s surface.

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