Now that we are all reading about satellites and travel to other space, a great deal of curiosity has been aroused about the other planets in our solar system. With the possible exception of Mars, the most interesting one to us is probably Jupiter. To begin with, Jupiter is like no less than 16 satellites, or moons, have been discovered revolving around Jupiter. Four of these are approximately the size of our own Moon. Two of them are only about 30 miles in diameter, and some of them are real midgets. They are 15 miles in diameter or less!
Jupiter is the largest of all the planets with a volume more than 1300 times that of the earth. When you look at it with the naked eye, it appears as a brilliant and beautiful spectacle. Yet it is 367,000000 miles from the planet at its nearest approach!
Astronomers find a constant “show” when they look at Jupiter through a telescope. It has dark streaks, or belts, separated by bright spaces called zones. The belts don’t keep their shape, but often break up into irregular markings of all kinds. The zone change, too, from time to time, with dark spots and bright white areas suddenly appearing. Sometimes a belt or part of a belt will disappear for a few weeks altogether. Astronomers believe that what we see as belts or zones, are a shell of clouds or vapors which are often in a disturbed condition.
One of the strange things about Jupiter is that it often displays striking colors on its surface. Two belts change from very red to brown, grey, or even bluish. It is thought that this has something to do with Jupiter’s revolution about the sun. This task 12 years and the changes in color seem to follow a cycle that repeats itself every 12 years.
Probably the most interesting and curious thing that has been noticed about Jupiter is its great red spot. It is about 30,000 miles long and about 8,000 miles wide. It varies greatly in color, form, intensity, and motion. In fact, in some years it is brick red, in other years it is grey, and sometimes it seems to disappear altogether. Not only that, but this mysterious red spot actually seems to move about on Jupiter, as if it were drifting.