Looking at Jupiter through a telescope, one can see only cloud formations, which have the form of dark and light belts that run parallel to the planetís equator. By following the details within the belt we can observe the planetís rapid rotation, which Jupiter rotates round its axis once within a ten hour period. Due to this rapid rotation, Jupiter is considerably flattened at itís poles.
The appearance of Jupiter not only changes because of its rapid rotation, but also because of the meteorological processes and the effects of the chemical properties in Jupiter's atmosphere. The overall distance between the belts and their distribution from the equator remain fairly constant. The cloud formations on the planet are of a much longer duration than those of Earth. A unique feature to this planet is the so called Great Red Spot, a reddish oval with a diameter bigger than the size of our Earth. This red spot has been observed by astronomers for over a hundered years, perphaps as early as the 17th century. The Great Red Spot (GRS) is the coldest and the highest cloud formation on Jupiter. Masses of clouds rotate counterclockwise around the outside of the GRS. The GRS can be likened to an unprecedented storm; a hurricane that contains winds reaching to the speed of more than 55 km/h.
The belts are produced by the circulation of the atmosphere. The light zones consist of cooler clouds at a greater height. The dusky belts are more transparent. The coloration of the belts on Jupiter show up very well in pictures taken by probes at close range. The colours are caused by various compounds that are created at specific temperatures, and thus at certain heights in the planet's atmosphere. The temperature in the upper-most cloud layer is -140 C , but in the lower layers it rises to 0 C.