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Cloud bands are clearly visible on Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS.

Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System and contains nearly 3/4 of all planetary matter.

With no solid surface, Jupiter is a gas and liquid filled giant. Its turbulent belts of clouds circulate parallel to the equator and often contain oval spots which are storm systems with the largest being easily twice the diameter of Earth. The great red spot has been observed for at least 300 years and rotates counter-clockwise with wind speeds of 270 miles per hour [430 km/hr].

Although observed and studied from Earth for centuries it wasn't until the mid 1970's that humans were able to get a closer look with the spacecraft Pioneer 10 and 11. The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched with the specific purpose of collecting information and data on the Jovian worlds. In December 1995 the Galileo spacecraft entered into orbit and began it's long-term study of Jupiter and it's moons, a probe was also sent deep into the atmosphere of the gas giant.

Selected radiation astronomy


This is a Hubble Space Telescope image taken on July 23, 2009, showing a blemish of about 5,000 miles long left by the 2009 Jupiter impact.[1] Credit: .
Brown spots mark the places where fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 tore through Jupiter's atmosphere in July 1994. Credit: Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team and NASA.
The Great Red Spot is decreasing in size (May 15, 2014). Credit: NASA Hubble Space Telescope.
A false-color composite image of Jupiter and its South Equatorial Belt shows an unusually bright spot, or outbreak, where winds are lofting particles to high altitudes. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/W. M. Keck Observatory.
Photo shows high-flying white clouds above Jupiter. Credit: NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran.{{fairuse}}

Jupiter has been called the Solar System's vacuum cleaner,[2] because of its immense gravity well and location near the inner Solar System. It receives the most frequent comet impacts of the Solar System's planets.[3]

A 1997 survey of historical astronomical drawings suggested that the astronomer Cassini may have recorded an impact scar in 1690. The survey determined eight other candidate observations had low or no possibilities of an impact.[4] A fireball was photographed by Voyager 1 during its Jupiter encounter in March 1979.[5] During the period July 16, 1994, to July 22, 1994, over 20 fragments from the comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 (SL9, formally designated D/1993 F2) collided with Jupiter's southern hemisphere, providing the first direct observation of a collision between two Solar System objects. This impact provided useful data on the composition of Jupiter's atmosphere.[6][7]

On July 19, 2009, an impact site was discovered at approximately 216 degrees longitude in System 2.[8][9] This impact left behind a black spot in Jupiter's atmosphere, similar in size to Oval BA. Infrared observation showed a bright spot where the impact took place, meaning the impact warmed up the lower atmosphere in the area near Jupiter's south pole.[10]

A fireball, smaller than the previous observed impacts, was detected on June 3, 2010, by Anthony Wesley, an amateur astronomer in Australia, and was later discovered to have been captured on video by another amateur astronomer in the Philippines.[11] Yet another fireball was seen on August 20, 2010.[12]

On September 10, 2012, another fireball was detected.[5][13]

The second image at right shows the atmospheric impact sites for the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragments. Spectroscopic studies revealed absorption lines in the Jovian spectrum due to diatomic sulfur (S2) and carbon disulfide (CS2), the first detection of either in Jupiter, and only the second detection of S2 in any astronomical object. Other molecules detected included ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The amount of sulfur implied by the quantities of these compounds was much greater than the amount that would be expected in a small cometary nucleus, showing that material from within Jupiter was being revealed.

"A false-color composite image [first on the left] of Jupiter and its South Equatorial Belt shows an unusually bright spot, or outbreak, where winds are lofting particles to high altitudes in this image made from data obtained by the W.M. Keck telescope on Nov. 11, 2010."[14]

"The white clouds [in the second image down on the left], which get up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide or so, are high up in Jupiter's atmosphere — so high that they're very cold, and the material they shed is therefore almost certainly frozen."[15]

"It's snowing on Jupiter, and we're seeing how it works."[15]

"It's probably mostly ammonia ice, but there may be water ice mixed into it, so it's not exactly like the snow that we have [on Earth]. And I was using my imagination when I said it was snowing there — it could be hail."[15]

"This photo taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on May 19, 2017, at 5:50 UTC from an altitude of 5,500 miles (8,900 kilometers) shows high-flying white clouds composed of water ice and/or ammonia ice. In some areas, these clouds appear to form squall lines — narrow bands of high winds and storms associated with a cold front."[15]


  1. Dennis Overbye (24 July 2009). Hubble Takes Snapshot of Jupiter’s ‘Black Eye’. New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  2. Richard A. Lovett (15 December 2006). Stardust's Comet Clues Reveal Early Solar System. National Geographic News. Retrieved 8 January 2007.
  3. Nakamura, T.; Kurahashi, H. (1998). "Collisional Probability of Periodic Comets with the Terrestrial Planets: An Invalid Case of Analytic Formulation". Astronomical Journal 115 (2): 848–54. doi:10.1086/300206. http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1538-3881/115/2/848/970144.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  4. Tabe, Isshi; Watanabe, Jun-ichi; Jimbo, Michiwo (February 1997). "Discovery of a Possible Impact SPOT on Jupiter Recorded in 1690". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan 49: L1–L5. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Franck Marchis (10 September 2012). Another fireball on Jupiter?. Cosmic Diary blog. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  6. Ron Baalke. Comet Shoemaker-Levy Collision with Jupiter. NASA. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  7. Robert R. Britt (23 August 2004). Remnants of 1994 Comet Impact Leave Puzzle at Jupiter. space.com. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  8. Staff (21 July 2009). Amateur astronomer discovers Jupiter collision, In: ABC News online. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  9. Mike Salway (19 July 2009). Breaking News: Possible Impact on Jupiter, Captured by Anthony Wesley, In: IceInSpace News. IceInSpace. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  10. Grossman, Lisa (July 20, 2009). "Jupiter sports new 'bruise' from impact". New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17491-jupiter-sports-new-bruise-from-impact.html. 
  11. Michael Bakich (4 June 2010). Another impact on Jupiter. Astronomy Magazine online. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  12. Beatty Kelly (22 August 2010). Another Flash on Jupiter!. Sky Publishing. Retrieved 23 August 2010. Masayuki Tachikawa was observing ... 18:22 Universal Time on the 20th ... Kazuo Aoki posted an image ... Ishimaru of Toyama prefecture observed the event
  13. George Hall (September 2012). George's Astrophotography. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 10 Sept. 2012 11:35 UT .. observed by Dan Petersen
  14. Nancy Atkinson (24 December 2015). How Jupiter is Getting Its Belt Back. Universe Today. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Scott Bolton (30 May 2017). 'It's Snowing on Jupiter': Stunning Photos Show Clouds High in Gas Giant's Skies. Space.com. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
Selected topic

Object astronomy

This false-color view of Jupiter was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. Credit: NASA, ESA, I. de Pater and M. Wong (University of California, Berkeley).

"[T]he ancients’ religions and mythology speak for their knowledge of Uranus; the dynasty of gods had Uranus followed by Saturn, and the latter by Jupiter."[1]

"This false-color view of Jupiter [on the right] was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006. The red color traces high-altitude haze blankets in the polar regions, equatorial zone, the Great Red Spot, and a second red spot below and to the left of its larger cousin. The smaller red spot is approximately as wide as Earth."[2]

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is giving astronomers their most detailed view yet of a second red spot emerging on Jupiter. For the first time in history, astronomers have witnessed the birth of a new red spot on the giant planet, which is located half a billion miles away. The storm is roughly one-half the diameter of its bigger and legendary cousin, the Great Red Spot. Researchers suggest that the new spot may be related to a possible major climate change in Jupiter's atmosphere. These images were taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys on April 8 and 16, 2006."[2]


  1. Immanuel Velikovsky. Uranus. The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  2. 2.0 2.1 I. de Pater and M. Wong (4 May 2006). Hubble Snaps Baby Pictures of Jupiter's "Red Spot Jr.". Baltimore, Maryland USA: HubbleSite. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
Selected astronomy

Water astronomy

Jupiter is imaged with the Stockholm Infrared Camera (SIRCA) in the H2O band. Credit: M. Gålfalk, G. Olofsson and H.-G. Florén, Nordic Observatory Telescope (NOT).

At center is a significant observation of Jupiter in the H2O band using the Stockholm Infrared Camera (SIRCA) on the Nordic Observatory Telescope (NOT).

The image clearly shows that water vapor is plentiful in the Jovian atmosphere.

Selected deity


Jupiter's head is crowned with laurel and ivy. Sardonyx cameo (Louvre). Credit: Jastrow.
Jupiter is in a wall painting from Pompeii, with eagle and globe. Credit: Olivierw.

A dominant line of scholarship has held that Rome lacked a body of myths in its earliest period, or that this original mythology has been irrecoverably obscured by the influence of the Greek narrative tradition.[1]

Jupiter is depicted as the twin of Juno in a statue at Praeneste that showed them nursed by Fortuna Primigenia.[2] An inscription that is also from Praeneste, however, says that Fortuna Primigenia was Jupiter's first-born child.[3] Jacqueline Champeaux sees this contradiction as the result of successive different cultural and religious phases, in which a wave of influence coming from the Hellenic world made Fortuna the daughter of Jupiter.[4] The childhood of Zeus is an important theme in Greek religion, art and literature, but there are only rare (or dubious) depictions of Jupiter as a child.[5]


  1. Hendrik Wagenvoort, "Characteristic Traits of Ancient Roman Religion," in Pietas: Selected Studies in Roman Religion (Brill, 1980), p. 241, ascribing the view that there was no early Roman mythology to Walter Friedrich Otto and his school.
  2. Described by Cicero, De divinatione 2.85, as cited by R. Joy Littlewood, "Fortune," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010), vol. 1, p. 212.
  3. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL) 1.60, as cited by Littlewood, "Fortune," p. 212.
  4. J. Champeaux Fortuna. Le culte de la Fortune à Rome et dans le monde romain. I Fortuna dans la religion archaïque 1982 Rome: Publications de l'Ecole Française de Rome; as reviewed by John Scheid in Revue de l' histoire des religions 1986 203 1: pp. 67–68 (Comptes rendus).
  5. William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908), pp. 223–225.
Selected image

This view is unique to Juno of Jupiter from the south which makes the Great Red Spot appear as though it is in northern territory. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstad/Sean Doran.{{fairuse}}

Selected meteor


The familiar banded appearance of Jupiter at low and middle latitudes gradually gives way to a more mottled appearance at high latitudes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.{{free media}}

"The familiar banded appearance of Jupiter at low and middle latitudes gradually gives way to a more mottled appearance at high latitudes in this striking true color image taken Dec. 13, 2000, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft."[1]

"The intricate structures seen in the polar region are clouds of different chemical composition, height and thickness. Clouds are organized by winds, and the mottled appearance in the polar regions suggests more vortex-type motion and winds of less vigor at higher latitudes."[1]

"One possible contributor is that the horizontal component of the Coriolis force, which arises from the planet's rotation and is responsible for curving the trajectories of ocean currents and winds on Earth, has its greatest effect at high latitudes and vanishes at the equator. This tends to create small, intense vortices at high latitudes on Jupiter. Another possibility may lie in that fact that Jupiter overall emits nearly as much of its own heat as it absorbs from the Sun, and this internal heat flux is very likely greater at the poles. This condition could lead to enhanced convection at the poles and more vortex-type structures. Further analysis of Cassini images, including analysis of sequences taken over a span of time, should help us understand the cause of equator-to-pole differences in cloud organization and evolution."[1]

"By the time this picture was taken, Cassini had reached close enough to Jupiter to allow the spacecraft to return images with more detail than what's possible with the planetary camera on NASA's Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The resolution here is 114 kilometers (71 miles) per pixel. This contrast-enhanced, edge-sharpened frame was composited from images take at different wavelengths with Cassini's narrow-angle camera, from a distance of 19 million kilometers (11.8 million miles). The spacecraft was in almost a direct line between the Sun and Jupiter, so the solar illumination on Jupiter is almost full phase."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sue Lavoie (19 December 2000). PIA02856: High Latitude Mottling on Jupiter. Washington DC USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
Selected moon


This image of Callisto from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, taken in May 2001, is the only complete global color image of Callisto obtained by Galileo. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR(German Aerospace Center).

Above is a complete global color image of Callisto.

This region of Callisto shows the transition from the inner part of an enormous impact basin, Asgard, to the outer surrounding plains. Credit: NASA/JPL.

"This fascinating region [in the image at the right] of Jupiter's icy moon, Callisto, shows the transition from the inner part of an enormous impact basin, Asgard, to the outer "surrounding plains." Small, bright, fine textured, closely spaced bumps appear throughout the inner part of the basin (top of image) and create a more fine textured appearance than that seen on many of the other inter-crater plains on Callisto. At low resolution, these icy bumps make Asgard's center brighter than the surrounding terrain. What caused the bumps to form is still unknown, but they are associated clearly with the impact that formed Asgard."[1]

"The ridge that cuts diagonally across the lower left corner is one of many giant concentric rings that extend for hundreds of kilometers outside Asgard's center. Exterior to the ring (lower left corner), Callisto's surface changes significantly. Still peppered with craters, the number of icy bumps decreases while their average size increases. The fine texture is not as visible in the middle of the image. One explanation is that material from raised features (such as the ridge) may slide down slope and cover small scale features. Such images of Callisto help us understand the dynamics of giant impacts into icy surfaces, and how the large structures change with time."[1]

"North is to the top of the picture. The image, centered at 27.1 degrees north latitude and 142.3 degrees west longitude, covers an area approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) by 90 kilometers (55 miles). The resolution is about 90 meters (295 feet) per picture element. The image was taken on September 17th, 1997 at a range of 9200 kilometers (5700 miles) by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA's Galileo spacecraft during its tenth orbit of Jupiter."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sue Lavoie (October 13, 1998). PIA01629: Textured Terrain in Callisto's Asgard Basin. Pasadena, California USA: NASA/JPL. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
Selected theory

Coronal clouds

Because of an eccentricity of 0.048, the distance from Jupiter and the Sun varies by 75 million km between perihelion and aphelion, or the nearest and most distant points of the planet along the orbital path respectively.

"Favorable oppositions occur when Jupiter is passing through perihelion, an event that occurs once per orbit. As Jupiter approached perihelion in March 2011, there was a favorable opposition in September 2010.[1]

It's orbital period is 4,332.59 d (11.8618 y).

"It is shown that starting with the alignment of Venus with Jupiter at perihelion position, these two planets will perfectly align at Jupiter's perihelion after every 23.7 years".[2]

"The tidal forces hypothesis for solar cycles has been proposed by Wood (1972) and others. Table 2 below shows the relative tidal forces of the planets on the sun. Jupiter, Venus, Earth and Mercury are called the "tidal planets" because they are the most significant. According to Wood, the especially good alignments of J-V-E with the sun which occur about every 11 years are the cause of the sunspot cycle. He has shown that the sunspot cycle is synchronous with the alignments, and J. Schove's data for 1500 year of sunspot maxima supports the 11.07 year J-V-E period average."[3]

"Both the 11.86 year Jupiter tropical period (time between perihelion's or closest approaches to the sun and the 9.93 year J-S alignment periods are found in sunspot spectral analysis. Unfortunately direct calculations of the tidal forces of all planets does not support the occurrence of the dominant 11.07 year cycle. Instead, the 11.86 year period of Jupiter's perihelion dominates the results. This has caused problems for several researchers in this field."[3]

The coronal cloud around Jupiter is exactly opposite to that around the Sun. At the Sun there are polar coronal holes, whereas at Jupiter the coronal cloud is most prevalent over the magnetic poles.


  1. Horizons output. Favorable Appearances by Jupiter. Retrieved 2008-01-02. (Horizons)
  2. S.D. Verma (1986). K. B. Bhatnagar (ed.). Influence of Planetary Motion and Radial Alignment of Planets on Sun, In: Space Dynamics and Celestial Mechanics. 127. Springer Netherlands. pp. 143–54. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-4732-0_13. ISBN 978-94-010-8603-5. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ray Tomes (February 1990). Towards a Unified Theory of Cycles. Cycles Research Institute. pp. 21. http://cyclesresearchinstitute.org/cycles-general/tomes_unified_cycles.pdf. Retrieved 2013-07-07.