Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system!
Jupiter is the 5th planet from the Sun, and it`s also the largest planet in our solar system. Jupiter`s diameter is about 12 times the size of our Earth at 85,000 miles. Even though the planet is so massive (it has more mass than all of the other planets put together), it`s only 1.3 times as dense as water. Unlike our Earth, this planet is a gas giant. which means it`s mostly made of gas.
The Romans must have noticed the planet`s size, because they named it after the ruler of the Roman gods.
Astronomers, both amateur and professional, have observed the planet for centuries. Galileo first observed Jupiter in 1610 with his simple telescope. In fact, the 4 large Galilean moons are named for him. The planet is a great choice for viewing through a telescope, since it`s so large and easily seen. You can actually get a good view of it with a good pair of binoculars!
Did you know the great red spot on the planet is actually a storm?
How long can a storm last? Would you believe over 300 years! That`s how long astronomers have observed this storm.
No other planet in our solar system looks quite the way Jupiter does, because of the colorful bands that cover the planet. These colorful bands are caused by clouds at differing heights and temperatures in the planets atmosphere. this is what gives the planet its colorful appearance. The planet`s atmosphere consists of about 85% hydrogen and 15% helium. This is actually similiar to the Sun. It`s just not dense enough for fusion reactions to happen like they do on the Sun.
The planetary ring system
The planet`s ring system is made of dust particles knocked from its moons by meteors and comets.
Here are some facts about the 5th planet in our solar system:
- It`s 484 million miles from the Sun
- It has at least 61 moons
- One day is 9.9 hours
- One year is 11.9 Earth years
Our solar system`s largest planet is so popular among astronomers because it`s so easily seen with a telescope, so go in your backyard and have a look!
Learn more about the largest planet in the solar system with this great software
Click here to return to the top of this Jupiter page