10 Amazing Facts About Jupiter
Jupiter is named after the king of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. Jupiter shrouded himself in a cloak of clouds to hide his mischief. Similarly, planet Jupiter conceals exciting and fascinating mysteries beneath its deadly clouds. It’s also an absolute giant! In fact, the only thing bigger in our solar system is the Sun. As on of the naked eye planets, Jupiter shines bright and powerful in our night skies. It has been studied since the times of ancient human civilizations. Without further ado, here are 10 amazing facts about Jupiter!
1. Jupiter is big. Like…huge.
It’s no secret that Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. But, it’s actually more than 300 times as massive as Earth. Jupiter is 2.5 more massive than all other planets in our solar system combined! The only thing bigger and more massive in the solar system is our Sun.
2. Winner: Fastest spinning planet in the solar system
Jupiter may be gigantic, but it spins faster than any other planet. Kind of like an NFL lineman running a 4-second 40-yard-dash. It rotates at nearly 30,000 miles per hour! Due to this speed, Jupiter’s day is only 10 hours long! This incredible speed even causes the regions around Jupiter’s equator to bulge out significantly.
3. The longest storm: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Perhaps Jupiter’s most famous feature, the Great Red Spot is a wild and gigantic storm. The storm is big enough to fit three Earths in its diameter. The Great Red Spot has been raging on for more than 350 years and shows little-to-no signs of slowing down any time soon!
4. Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in our sky
Only the Moon, Sun and Venus shine brighter from Earth. In fact, Jupiter is so bright that its observational recordings date back to the 7th century BC, by ancient Babylonians. It is the second brightest of what we call the naked eye planets.
5. Winner: Largest known moon in the solar system
Of Jupiter’s award-winning 67 known moons, Ganymede takes the prize for biggest moon. At 3,200 miles across, Ganymede is even bigger than planet, Mercury! Our Moon is only 2,000 miles across.
6. Jupiter could have been a star
Don’t worry, it won’t happen. Jupiter is similar to a star in that it is predominantly composed of hydrogen and helium. It’s also very massive, much like a typical star, but not quite enough. If the planet were to grow around 70 times as large as it is now, nuclear fusion would occur. If this growth were to magically happen, and fusion kicked in, Jupiter would transform into a real star. That would cause quite a brutal situation for our solar system, we would have two Suns!
7. Jupiter, the ringed planet?
That’s right, Jupiter has rings! Actually, it is one of four planets with ring systems (Saturn, Uranus and Neptune). However, the rings are quite faint and not something you could see through an amateur telescope. Jupiter’s rings even have sections, just like the famous rings of Saturn that we have all seen and know.
8. Jupiter has liquid oceans beneath its clouds
Though, these are not the kind of oceans you would want to go swimming in, they are liquid hydrogen. It obviously takes extreme conditions for elements like hydrogen to reach a liquid phase. Somewhere around -400º Fahrenheit, to be exact! Plus, the oceans are surrounded by thousands of miles of gases.
9. Jupiter is Earth’s protective big brother
Due to its gigantic size, and therefore gravity, Jupiter pulls in a lot of things floating around the solar system. By doing this, it has saved Earth from several comets and asteroids that otherwise would have hit us! This was particularly witnessed with the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet in 1994. Jupiter’s strong gravity broke the comet apart, and Jupiter was ultimately pummeled by the pieces. Thanks, big bro!
10. Jupiter’s radiation belt is huge!
Again, because of its large size and extreme conditions, Jupiter has the solar system’s most powerful electromagnetic field. In fact, if it were visible to us, Jupiter would appear to be as big as our Sun! It is for this reason that missions like NASA’s Juno spacecraft must travel very careful and protect their equipment.