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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


At left, Photograph of Jupiter's enormous Great Red Spot in 1879 from "A History of Astronomy in the 19th Century". Credit: Agnes Clerk and NASA.

The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a persistent anticyclonic storm, 22° south of Jupiter's equator, which has lasted for at least 189 years and possibly longer than 354 years.[1][2] The storm is large enough to be visible through Draft:Earth-based telescopes. Its dimensions are 24–40,000 km west–to–east and 12–14,000 km south–to–north. The spot is large enough to contain two or three planets the size of Earth. At the start of 2004, the Great Red Spot had approximately half the longitudinal extent it had a century ago, when it was 40,000 km in diameter. The Great Red Spot's latitude has been stable for the duration of good observational records, typically varying by about a degree.

It is not known exactly what causes the Great Red Spot's reddish color. Theories supported by laboratory experiments suppose that the color may be caused by complex organic molecules, red phosphorus, or yet another sulfur compound. The Great Red Spot (GRS) varies greatly in hue, from almost brick-red to pale salmon, or even white. The reddest central region is slightly warmer than the surroundings, which is the first evidence that the Spot's color is affected by environmental factors.[3] The spot occasionally disappears from the visible spectrum, becoming evident only through the Red Spot Hollow, which is its niche in the South Equatorial Belt. The visibility of GRS is apparently coupled to the appearance of the SEB; when the belt is bright white, the spot tends to be dark, and when it is dark, the spot is usually light. The periods when the spot is dark or light occur at irregular intervals; as of 1997, during the preceding 50 years, the spot was darkest in the periods 1961–66, 1968–75, 1989–90, and 1992–93.[4]

"Jupiter’s most celebrated atmospheric beauty mark, the Great Red Spot (GRS), has been shrinking for years. When I was a kid in the ’60s peering through my Edmund 6-inch reflector, not only was the Spot decidedly red, but it was extremely easy to see. Back then it really did span three Earths."[5]

"In the 1880s the GRS resembled a huge blimp gliding high above white crystalline clouds of ammonia and spanned 40,000 km (25, 000 miles) across. You couldn’t miss it even in those small brass refractors that were the standard amateur observing gear back in the day. Nearly one hundred years later in 1979, the Spot’s north-south extent has remained virtually unchanged, but it’s girth had shrunk to 25,000 km (15,535 miles) or just shy of two Earth diameters. Recent work done by expert astrophotographer Damian Peach using the WINJUPOS program to precisely measure the GRS in high resolution photos over the past 10 years indicates a continued steady shrinkage:"[5] 2003 Feb – 18,420km (11,445 miles) 2005 Apr – 18,000km (11,184) 2010 Sep – 17,624km (10,951) 2013 Jan – 16,954km (10,534) 2013 Sep – 15,894km (9,876) 2013 Dec – 15,302km (9,508) = 1.2 Earth diameters.

"Not only has the Spot been shrinking, its rotation period has been speeding up. Older references give the period of one rotation at 6 days. John Rogers (British Astronomical Assn.) published a 2012 paper on the evolution of the GRS and discovered that between 2006 to 2012 – the same time as the Spot has been steadily shrinking – its rotation period has spun up to 4 days."[5]

"Rogers also estimated a max wind speed of 300 mph, up from about 250 mph in 2006. Despite its smaller girth, this Jovian hurricane’s winds pack more punch than ever. Even more fascinating, the Great Red Spot may have even disappeared altogether from 1713 to 1830 before reappearing in 1831 as a long, pale “hollow”. According to Rogers, no observations or sketches of that era mention it. Surely something so prominent wouldn’t be missed. This begs the question of what happened in 1831. Was the “hollow” the genesis of a brand new Red Spot unrelated to the one first seen by astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1665? Or was it the resurgence of Cassini’s Spot?"[5]


  1. Staff (2007). Jupiter Data Sheet – SPACE.com. Imaginova. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  2. Anonymous (10 August 2000). The Solar System – The Planet Jupiter – The Great Red Spot. Dept. Physics & Astronomy – University of Tennessee. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  3. Fletcher, Leigh N.; Orton,, G.S.; Mousis et. al, O.; Yanamandra-Fisher, P.; Parrish, P.D.; Irwin, P.G.J.; Fisher, B.M.; Vanzi, L. et al. (2010). "Thermal structure and composition of Jupiter's Great Red Spot from high-resolution thermal imaging" (PDF). Icarus 208 (1): 306–328. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.01.005. http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1010/eso1010.pdf. 
  4. Beebe, R. (1997). Jupiter the Giant Planet (2nd ed.). Washington: Smithsonian Books. ISBN 1-56098-685-9. OCLC 224014042.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Bob King (23 December 2015). Will Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Turn into a Wee Red Dot?. Universe Today. Retrieved 12 February 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

Thermal Jupiter cut.jpg

The image shows Jupiter in the infrared. Credit: NASA.

Here in the infrared band the Great Red Spot (on the lower left) is almost unseen.

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 is a true-color image of Io taken by the Galileo probe. Credit: NASA.

Io is a rocky-object that is irradiated by the Sun.

Io is also in a planetary-type orbit around Jupiter.

In the image, "[t]he smallest features that can be discerned are 2.5 kilometers in size. There are rugged mountains several kilometers high, layered materials forming plateaus, and many irregular depressions called volcanic calderas. Several of the dark, flow-like features correspond to hot spots, and may be active lava flows. There are no landforms resembling impact craters, as the volcanism covers the surface with new deposits much more rapidly than the flux of comets and asteroids can create large impact craters. The picture is centered on the side of Io that always faces away from Jupiter; north is to the top."[1]


  1. Sue Lavoie (18 December 1997). PIA00583: High Resolution Global View of Io. Palo Alto, California: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
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.