With all of the great planets that you can look at through your brand new telescope, one of the most popular ones is probably going to be Jupiter. Even the rings of Saturn pale in comparison to the popularity that is known as one of the most interesting planets in our solar system, and at one point considered to be the largest overall. With all of the fuss about which is the most popular planet, you can expect Jupiter to be one of the many that is mentioned in a list. So what is it like looking at Jupiter through a telescope?
How Does Jupiter Look?
With only 3 planets that will show noticeable details when using a consumer telescope, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars have a very distinct look about them compared to the other planets. From earth you can view Jupiter’s 4 Jovian moons, an incredible view that will also leave you feeling a bit smallish. There is really a lot of detail that can be seen, but it does take a bit of power for some of the better views. This means that with a good telescope you can see cloud bands and other related phenomena on Jupiter. Without a good scope then you will be limited to a very blurry static image.
This is another reason why getting that good scope the first time around is so important. Depending on the time you look you may only see 3 of the 4 moons. With a little patience this can change, even within the hour. With these 4 moons rotating around Jupiter and creating its own solar system, it really becomes a treat to the eyes with a good telescope. This is one of the many reasons that Jupiter ends up in so many top 5 planets list.
Interesting Facts About Jupiter
#1 Eight different spacecraft have visited Jupiter, with the latest in Juno set to arrive July 2016. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5th, 2011, the 5 year mission to Jupiter will only be Juno’s first leg of the mission. The second phase will be 1 year of examining the planet.
#2 Just like Saturn, Jupiter has rings but they are very thin and easy to miss from our planet. The rings are made up of dust particle, or rather remains of the planet that broke off due to comet or asteroid impacts. Although it is easy to say the rings are thin, they are 2,000 to 12,500 kilometers thick. That’s pretty substantial, even for a planet the size of Jupiter.
#3 The many moons of Jupiter are interesting, but none more than Ganymeade, the largest in the solar system. Ganymeade is so large that it is bigger than the planet Mercury! Measuring 5,268 across, looking in a telescope does not do it justice if you want to really gauge its size.
#4 The anticyclonic storm known as The Great Red Spot has been raging longer than 350 years on the planet. A good idea of how big the storm is would be indicated with it being spotted through regular low level scopes from consumers. With a storm this big, it has been said that 3 earths could fit inside of it, which is a scary thought. Currently that number may have grown, as the storm keeps gaining in size and ferocity.
#5 With the shortest day of the 8 planets at 9 hours 55 minutes, it rotates on its axis so fast that it has an oblate shape. This also explains how waiting a simple hour will allow you to see a moon that may have been hiding in its shadow. This speedy sequence is interesting since it takes Jupiter almost 12 Earth years to make one orbit of the Sun.
#6 Did you know that Jupiter could have easily been a star? If it was 80 times more massive, nuclear fusion would have occurred in its core. Can you imagine if Jupiter had been a star instead of a planet, with all of those moons orbiting it? This has created quite the mystery when observing Jupiter, and it makes for a fun fact that will work as a cool icebreaker at a party.
#7 If you compare the magnetic field of Jupiter to that of Earth it is 14 times stronger. Now imaging if an explosion would take place near its core- that would be quite the lightshow indeed.
There is a reason that Jupiter is one of the most interesting planets to peer at through a telescope, and it goes far beyond being the biggest planet in the galaxy. With all of the interesting facts associated with the planet, you could spend hours going over the history of the planet and still not even scratch the surface of what makes Jupiter so awesome. Happy viewing, and make sure to check the included books with your telescope for some more information.