Jupiter was discovered by many people. It is so big, it can be seen by the naked eye at night. Actually, the planet is the second largest object in the night sky ( the largest is the moon). The Greeks are the most famous for discovering and cataloging this great planet, but it was noticed as early as the time of the ancient Egyptians.
Jupiter is a colorful planet. Its top layer of clouds are shades of red and orange and then yellows, browns, white, and lastly blues.
Jupiter is famous for its storms. One of Jupiter's most interesting storms is the Great Red Spot. The Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm that is big enough to fit two entire planet earths inside it! Actually, over the years the Great Red Spot changes its size, shape, and color. Even though the Great Red Spot is a storm, it has kept the same position on Jupiter for centuries!
Jupiter is a huge planet and can be seen by the naked eye by night. It looks like a very bright star. Actually, it is the second largest object in the sky. Since it is so large, its gravitational pull is strong enough to make its gaseous atmosphere as hard as steel (or harder!) Jupiter has sixteen moons trapped in orbit. Its 4 largest moons, called the Galilean moons, were named after their discoverer, Galileo Galilei. Galileo was a famous Italian mathemetician/astronomer. He discovered these moons with a homemade telescope! These moons are: Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon, Europa, Jupiter's watery moon, Callisto, Jupiter's scarred, frozen moon, and Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon.
Io, slightly larger than our moon, is the only volcanic moon in our solar system. Actually, Io has more volcanic activity than the earth itself! It has many different surface features, including volcanic craters, meteor and meteorite craters, lakes of molten sulfer, mountains, sulfer and molten rock lava flows and valleys. Did you know that the hottest areas on Io reach over 1,000 degrees? It's a hot place!
Europa, slightly smaller than our moon, is the smoothest surfaced moon in our solar system. In theory. an ocean of water lies beneath a surface of brown-tinted ice approximately sixty miles thick. No one knows why Europa's surface is so smooth and Jupiter's other moons are not, but many astronomers are trying to find out why right this very minute!
Callisto, slightly smaller than the planet Mercury, is the most heavily cratered body in our solar system. Even though it is a bit smaller than Mercury, since it is made of such lightwieght ice and rock debris, it is only a third the weight of Mercury's mass.
Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, is the largest moon in our solar system. Roughly, it is two and one half times the size of earth. It is made of three geological layers-a small iron or iron/sulfur core, a rocky mantle surrounding the core, and an icy crust covering that. Ganymede's surface is a mix of dark, rocky soil and white ice.
Did you know that?...
Jupiter is large enough to fit all the other eight planets inside itself? Jupiter has at least sixteen moons in its orbit? Jupiter has rings? (You might think I made a mistake, but Jupiter DOES have rings!) And that Io, one of Jupiter's Galilean moons, is the only volcanically active moon in our solar system? Well, if you did.......YOU ARE TOTALLY CORRECT!
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