DR. SKY BLOG

Giant Jupiter, with its 79 moons, is king of the planets

Jun 16, 2021, 2:00 PM

This composite image provided by NASA on June 30, 2016, illustrates auroras on the planet Jupiter. ...

This composite image provided by NASA on June 30, 2016, illustrates auroras on the planet Jupiter. This view was produced by NASA using a photograph made by the Hubble Space Telescope in spring 2014, and ultraviolet observations of the auroras in 2016. Earth’s polar lights are triggered by solar storms, which occur when a cloud of gas from the sun encounters the planet’s magnetic field. Jupiter’s powerful auroras are sparked by the planet’s own rotation. (NASA/ESA/Hubble via AP)

(NASA/ESA/Hubble via AP)

Jupiter is the king of the planets!

Did you know that Jupiter has some two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in the solar system? With a diameter of some 88,000 miles, Jupiter is a gas giant that dwarfs Earth.

We are lucky to have a planet such as Jupiter in the solar system, as it performs a major task by clearing the solar system of many unwanted asteroids and comets, which might be headed towards Earth.

Jupiter has 79 known moons — the most of any planet in the solar system — and more are expected to be discovered by the Juno spacecraft.

Juno is a most amazing spacecraft.

There are three main moon groups, the first being the four primary Jovian satellites. They were discovered by Galileo on Jan. 7, 1610, with his low-powered telescope.

He named them Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto after the many lovers of the Roman god Jupiter.

The second, called the inner group, is made up of small moons and the third, referred to as the irregular satellites, orbit in distant and eccentric orbits.

Modern spacecraft tell us that these moons are rather large by scale and at least one Jovian moon, Ganymede, is actually larger than the planet Mercury.

If you are looking for a location in the solar system that might harbor some type of life, look no further than Europa.

Scientists tell us that below the ice of Europa, there might be large oceans of liquid, which might support some type of primitive life.

Arizona observers have a great opportunity to see Jupiter.

Look to the morning sky, just before dawn, when the planet is high in the southern sky and easy to see with the naked eye.

You can actually see the four Jovian moons in a pair of binoculars – if you hold them steady – but you can get better views of Jupiter in the telescope.

Enjoy!

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Giant Jupiter, with its 79 moons, is king of the planets