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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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Jupiter, by Maxwell Harden


Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and is also the largest. It makes up 70% of all the planetary matter in the solar system. It is as massive as 318 Earths. Jupiter was named after Jove (Greek Zeus), the king of the gods and the ruler of Olympus in Greek mythology. Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky and was discovered in 1610 by Galileo. Jupiter belongs to the gas giant family of planets, meaning it is composed primarily of gases and has a small, rocky core. Jupiter is approximately 5.2 AU away from the sun and rotates around the Sun about once every 12 years. Jupiter is also known for its conspicuous cloud features. Red and white spots and bands move rapidly across the planet. The most notable of which is the Great Red Spot, a massive storm that can be as large as 3 Earths, which has been active since being spotted more than 300 years ago. The Red Spot is not visible in this photograph. It is most likely on the other side of the planet due to Jupiter's rapid rotation.

Picture 1: Jupiter is known for its beautiful bands of red and white gas. The bands of gas you see here are divided into at least three different layers based on composition and temperature. The white bands are warm gases that rose to the top of the atmosphere and cooled off, forming white clouds. The red bands are the exact opposite, cooler gases that are sinking down into a warmer part of the atmosphere. The red bands are areas of Jupiter's lower atmospherethat are visible because the sinking gases become transparent in coler when coming in contact with the surrounding gases. If you take a closer look, you may notice that the width of Jupiter is is greater than its height. This "flattened" shape is due to Jupiter's rapid rotation. One day on Jupiter is equal to only about 10 Earth hours.


Picture 2: This is an alternate photo of the previous photo, using higher contrasts to cancel out Jupiter and emphasize its moons. Three of Jupiter's moons are visible in this photo. (From left to right) Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto are three of the four original moons that Galileo discovered in 1610. While Callisto is as big as the other two satellites, it reflects much less light, making it appear dimmer. They are also three of the largest moons that Jupiter has. That's saying something, due to the fact that Jupiter has over 63 satellites in orbit. The fourth moon, Io, is not visible at this time because it is on the other side of Jupiter.

Arnette, Bill. "Jupiter" Nine Planets.


TheSky software

Right Ascension (J2000) 21h 22m 54.5s
Declination (J2000) -16°25'12"
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter  
Date observed

November 3, 2009 (R) 9:35 p.m. to (B) 9:48 p.m.