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Planet JupiterJUPITER

The planet Jupiter. 318 times bigger than the Earth, with a few dozen moons going around it. The planet Jupiter is visible from Earth just by looking at the sky at the right time. It looks like a bright star.

Four of the moon of Jupiter can be seen through binoculars. If you see something in the sky looking like a bright star and try looking at it through binoculars, the sights of these four moons is more amazing than you might guess if you've never tried this. [More about this]

The atmosphere of Jupiter is a turbulent sea of storms and there's not really a solid surface. It's possible to create effects which look a bit like the goings-on in the Jovian atmosphere by making tea in a pint glass with the right amounts of sugar and milk. Different layers of concentration and temperature cause circulating whirlpools at transition layers.

More radio energy comes off the planet than arrives. Though it's tempting to think this might be alien life-forms with radio transmitters, it's most likely to be instead that the planet is so big that it is part-way to being a star (a substellar object) and the atomic reactions going on inside the planet cause emission of radiation.

Because of the large gravity of the planet, it has the reputation of being the vacuum-cleaner of the solar system and tends to attract asteroids that are about. However, some people blame the planet for various gravity snooker-shots which deflect asteroids all over the place.

A few years ago a large object called Shoemaker-Levy9 collided with the planet Jupiter. If it had hit the planet Earth instead it would have been the End of the World. See Asteroids Colliding with the Earth

The moons of Jupiter are many, and there seem to be more of them being discovered all the time. The four largest: Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io, are all quite different from each other, as revealed by a NASA space mission, which got a closer look than Galileo, who was first to discover the four largest moons. (That's why they're known as The Galilean Moons of Jupiter).

A few Jovian links...
















The links on this page were last checked and updated 2008/08/23

Picture of Jupiter (non-copyright) acquired from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jupiter.jpg