When was Jupiter discovered?

Jupiter

Jupiter wanted poster
Position / Art 5 / gas planet
Distance to the sun 743 to 819 million km
temperature -108 ° C
diameter 138 346 km
Orbital time 11 years, 314 days
Jupiter day 9 h 55 min
Further data: see planet table

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It is so big that the earth would fit in more than 1000 times! Although it is more than 600 million kilometers away from us, it still appears to us in the sky as a bright and conspicuous object.

When Venus is not visible, Jupiter is the brightest point of light in the sky. The Romans even named him after their main god - Jupiter, who is also known to us as Zeus from Greek legends. You probably already suspected that Jupiter is the most powerful of all planets.

The giant with the stripes

Jupiter rotates around itself once in just under 10 hours. This causes its atmosphere to deform. It is much thicker in the middle than on the poles! Even in small telescopes it can be seen that Jupiter is wider than it is high.

Stripes can be seen in its atmosphere that run fairly parallel to the equator. They consist of different gases such as ammonia and sulfur and can therefore be easily distinguished from one another by color. The stripes are preserved for a long time and swirl around each other at their edges.

If you watch Jupiter regularly, you will find that the stripes change gradually, both in their size and in their color. In addition, roundish spots that are colored differently appear in them from time to time. These are cyclone areas.

Like the sun, Jupiter consists mainly of the gases hydrogen and helium, so it is a gas planet. It has an outside temperature of around -150 ° C. The further you penetrate into its atmosphere, the more pressure and temperature rise.

As a result, the gases condense more and more and liquefy in deeper layers. In the center they probably even go into a solid state. This core of Jupiter should be about the size of the globe.

Since Jupiter rotates so rapidly on itself, enormous winds arise and violent storms rage in its atmosphere. You can reach speeds of up to 500 km / h!

In contrast, the tornadoes and hurricans on earth look downright harmless!

The most famous cyclone on Jupiter is the Great Red Spot. It was discovered in 1664, so it has been around for more than 300 years! We do not know how long this vortex system has actually existed.

Mix the Jupiter atmosphere yourself!

You can find out how to create streaks and hurricanes that make Jupiter look so unique on the join-in page.


Jupiter's moons

With its immense gravity, Jupiter manages to capture and hold on to numerous small bodies passing by. They orbit it today as its moons. 66 moons have now been discovered. The four largest are also the most famous moons as they were discovered by Galileo Galilei as early as 1610. They were created together with Jupiter and are called Io, Europa, Ganymed and Callisto. Each of these Jupiter satellites is unique and has very special properties.


In this figure we see the 4 Galilean moons arranged according to their size.
Left to right: Ganymede, Callisto, Io, Europe.
The size of our moon is between Callisto and Io.
More information can be found on the 'Moons of Jupiter' page.

Already knew?

Jupiter almost became a second sun! It consists of the same gases as them, but could not collect enough hydrogen when it was created. The pressure and temperature inside are therefore not high enough to start a nuclear fusion. Otherwise it would have shone just like the sun and turned many a night into day for us.


Exploring Jupiter

Like all other gas planets, Jupiter also has rings of dust and small stones that surround it in its equatorial plane. The planet with the most noticeable rings is Saturn.

Jupiter has quite dark rings that are almost invisible. They were only discovered and photographed by Voyager 1 in 1979. They cannot be observed from the earth. The stones of the rings probably come from the moons of Jupiter. If these are hit by meteorites, the ejected material is thrown into space and spread around the planet.

The rings won't be around forever. They are attracted to Jupiter's gravity and spiral towards him. This is how they will dissolve over the next millennia. Because if they come too close to Jupiter's atmosphere, they burn up in it.

Jupiter has already been visited and photographed by several space probes. It turned out that its moons in particular represent fascinating worlds.

After the sun, Jupiter has the greatest gravitational pull of all bodies in the solar system. This gravitational effect is used in space travel.

Missions that are sent out to explore the outer regions of the solar system gain momentum for their journey through a swing-by maneuver on Jupiter. You will be accelerated by it and thus cope with the immense distances to Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto a little faster.

You can find out which space probes have already been to Jupiter and what they have explored on the 'Jupiter Missions' page. Which Jupiter mission is currently on the way can be found on the page 'Jupiter Mission Juno'.


Jupiter is a very noticeable object in the sky. When Venus is not there, he is the most powerful of all points of light and immediately catches the eye.

Jupiter moves slowly between the stars on the 'planetary road', the ecliptic. People have known this for thousands of years.

Because he is one of the brightest of the walking stars, he was often equated with the main god in earlier cultures. In ancient Greece he embodied Zeus, father of the gods, whom the Romans later called Jupiter.

Jupiter is very easy to observe. It is one of the brightest objects in the sky. If you have binoculars or a telescope you can even see its four largest moons!

You can find out when Jupiter can be found in the sky and what its moons are all about on the 'Observe Jupiter' page.

The images on this page are from NASA (Courtesy NASA / JPL-Caltech).

Tags: planets, Jupiter, gas planets

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