Jupiter is the largest of the eight planets in the solar system and is the fifth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant and is one of the four planets that forms the Jovian (outer) planets. When seen from Earth, Jupiter is the third brightest object in the night sky after the moon and Venus. Jupiter is mainly made up of hydrogen and some helium. It has a rocky core of heavy elements and has red, brown, white and orange bands. Here are some other interesting facts about the planet Jupiter.
Interesting facts about Jupiter
Jupiter is named after the Roman god Jupiter who was known as Zeus in Greek Mythology. The story goes that Zeus overthrew his father Saturn and became king of the gods and then split the universe with his brothers Neptune (god of the Sea) and Pluto (god of the underworld).
Jupiter has at least 64 moons. The four largest moons are called the Galilean Moons because they were discovered by Galileo in 1610. The four largest moons are called Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The largest of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede is bigger than the planet Mercury!
The bands of color in Jupiter’s atmosphere move in the opposite direction to one another. When the bands interact with one another turbulence and storms occur. The most obvious of these storms is the Great Red Spot that was first sighted in the 17th century and continues until the present day. The Great Red Spot is big enough to hold two planets the size of Earth. It is also known as the “eye of Jupiter” due to its shape.
Jupiter is an oblate spheroid and has a slight bulge around its equator. This is due to the speed at which it rotates. One rotation of Jupiter takes only 9 hours and 55 minutes.
Jupiter is 777 million km (483 million mi.) from the sun and it takes 4332.59 days to orbit the sun. This means that Jupiter takes 11.86 Earth years to orbit the sun.
Jupiter is more than twice as massive as all the other planets in the solar system combined and its mass is 318 times more than that of Earth.
Jupiter radiates more energy in to space than it receives from the sun and the interior of the planet is very hot with temperatures of 20,000 K. Its average outer temperature is -153°C (-244°F).
Just like Saturn, Jupiter also has planetary rings, but they are much smaller and fainter. Jupiter’s rings are dark and have no ice particles. They are believed to be made up of small grains of rocky material. The three rings are called Gossamer, Main and Halo.
Jupiter has a large magnetic field which extends out past Saturn.
Jupiter has been visited by 7 different unmanned space craft, the most recent being New Horizon which passed Jupiter on February 28, 2007. Only one of the probes has actually orbited Jupiter and that was the Galileo orbiter. It orbited Jupiter for seven years collected images and readings.