Interesting Facts About Jupiter

All eight planets are fascinating in their own way, however, the gas giant Jupiter is arguably the most interesting. From the first time Galileo pointed his telescope at Jupiter over 400 years ago and saw that it had a moon system, mankind has been captivated by this massive planet.

It has an enormous size, an intense anticyclonic storm, over 80 known moons, and even rings. From its intense magnetic field to its role in the formation of our Solar System, Jupiter is truly a captivating planet. 

I have enjoyed viewing and photographing the planet Jupiter for many years. It was one of the first objects I ever witnessed through the eyepiece of my Dobsonian Telescope

Planet Jupiter

The Planet Jupiter captured with the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA, ESA, Amy Simon (NASA-GSFC), Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley).

Here are some quick facts about Jupiter. I will cover each of the following bullet points in more detail further down the article.

10 Interesting Facts about Jupiter:

  1. Jupiter is 11 times larger than Earth
  2. Jupiter’s magnetic field is over 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s
  3. The ‘Great Red Spot’ has been raging for over 350 years
  4. Jupiter has at least 80 known moons
  5. Jupiter’s gravity likely played a key role in the formation of the Solar System
  6. Jupiter completes a full rotation of its axis in just under 10 hours
  7. Jupiter’s atmosphere is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium
  8. Jupiter has a unique ring system made up of four main rings
  9. Jupiter’s core can reach up to 36,000 degrees Celsius
  10. Jupiter has been visited by several spacecraft

Great Red Spot

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a storm that has been raging for over 350 years. (NASA)

Jupiter is a compelling object of study in the field of astronomy and planetary science, due to its unique physical and chemical properties, as well as its pivotal role in the formation and evolution of the Solar System.

Though I am not a scientist or professional astronomer, I am an astrophotographer who truly appreciates the wonder and mysteries of Jupiter. If you are curious as to how I managed to take a close-up photo of the planet Jupiter using my camera and telescope, be sure to read: How to Photograph the Planet Jupiter

Jupiter through telescope

The planet Jupiter, the Great Red Spot, and Europa. Trevor Jones. 

Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a mass over 300 times greater than that of Earth. Jupiter is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, with small amounts of other elements. Its massive size and strong gravitational field have significant effects on other objects in the Solar System, including the orbits of asteroids, comets, and other planets.

In our Solar System, Jupiter can be thought of as a “vacuum cleaner” because it can absorb asteroids and comets that wander too close. It also influences the asteroid belt, and can significantly alter the orbits of small bodies, sending them on long trajectories that take hundreds or thousands of years to complete. While Jupiter can deflect comets and asteroids, sometimes it may propel objects toward the inner planets as well.

Jupiter’s atmosphere is marked by several features, such as its colorful cloud bands and its Great Red Spot, a massive storm system that has persisted for centuries. Using the Hubble Space Telescopes’ ultraviolet capabilities, astronomers have been able to photograph vivid auroras on Jupiter. Jupiter’s formation and evolution hold important clues about the early history of the Solar System, as well as the processes by which planets are formed and evolve. 

10 Interesting Facts About Jupiter

  1. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a diameter over 11 times larger than that of Earth, and a mass over 300 times greater, making it more massive than all the other planets combined.
  2. Jupiter has a powerful magnetic field that is over 20,000 times stronger than that of Earth, which creates intense radiation belts that can pose a danger to spacecraft and astronauts.
  3. Jupiter is known for its distinctive cloud bands, which are caused by the planet’s rapid rotation, and its Great Red Spot, a massive storm system that has been raging for over 350 years and is larger than the size of Earth.
  4. Jupiter has over 80 known moons, including the four largest, known as the Galilean moons, which were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610 and are named after him. 
  5. Jupiter is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the Solar System, as its massive gravity influenced the orbits of other objects and prevented the formation of a planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. 
  6. Despite its massive size, Jupiter rotates on its axis at an incredibly fast rate, completing one full rotation in just under 10 hours.
  7. The atmosphere of Jupiter is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, but it also contains traces of methane, ammonia, and water vapor.
  8. Jupiter has a unique ring system made up of four main rings and several fainter ones, which were first discovered by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1979.
  9. The temperature of Jupiter’s core can reach up to 36,000 degrees Celsius (65,000 degrees Fahrenheit), which is hotter than the surface of the Sun.
  10. Jupiter has been visited by several spacecraft, including the Galileo mission, which arrived in 1995 and orbited the planet for eight years, and the Juno mission, which studied Jupiter’s atmosphere and magnetic field.

Juno Mission

The Juno Mission has made over 50 orbits around the planet Jupiter thus far. (NASA)

Jupiters 4 Galilean Moons:


Jupiter has several moons, with the four largest being known as the Galilean moons. They are named after the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who first observed them in 1610. 

Galilean Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter’s four largest moons. (The Outer Planets)

Each of the Galilean Moons has its own unique characteristics and geological features. They are all different, and scientists still have a lot to learn about them. 

Io is the innermost of Jupiter’s four largest moons and is the most geologically active object in the solar system. It has over 400 active volcanoes and its surface is constantly changing due to the eruption of lava flows and sulfur dioxide plumes.

Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon and has a smooth, icy surface that is believed to hide a subsurface ocean of liquid water. It is one of the most promising places to look for extraterrestrial life in our solar system.

Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system and is larger than the planet Mercury. It has a unique surface that includes both dark, heavily cratered regions and lighter, younger regions that have been resurfaced by tectonic activity.

Callisto is the most heavily cratered object in the solar system and has a very old, heavily cratered surface that has remained largely unchanged for billions of years. It is also believed to have a subsurface ocean of liquid water.

Jupiter and its Moons Through a Telescope

The four largest moons of Jupiter are so big, you can see them with a pair of binoculars or an amateur telescope (a Dobsonian is best). When you look at Jupiter through an astronomical telescope, you will notice 3-4 ‘stars’ surrounding the planet Jupiter, but these are actually Jupiter’s moons!

The moons appear in different positions over time, and it is one of the most incredible things you can see through a telescope eyepiece. In the amateur astrophotography image shown below, you can clearly see each of the Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter. This is a great example of the view you can expect to see through a telescope. 

Jupiter's moons through telescope

What Jupiter and its moons look like through a telescope. (Astrophotography Blog)

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a huge storm that has been raging on the planet for a very long time. In fact, scientists estimate that this iconic feature has been around for over 300 years. This means that it has been visible to humans for many generations.

Despite its long history, scientists are still studying the Great Red Spot to learn more about its formation, behavior, and what it can tell us about the planet as a whole. The winds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot are incredibly strong and can reach speeds of up to 400 miles per hour (about 644 kilometers per hour).

The storm is so massive that it could fit two or three Earths inside it. Despite its intensity, the Great Red Spot is just one of many storms that can be found in Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, which is constantly changing and evolving over time.

How Much Bigger is Jupiter Than Earth?

Jupiter is significantly larger than Earth. Jupiter’s diameter is approximately 86,881 miles (139,822 kilometers), which is more than 11 times larger than Earth’s diameter of approximately 7,917 miles (12,742 kilometers). To put it into perspective, you could fit over 1,300 Earths inside of Jupiter.

Unlike our Earth, the Jupiter has no surface. The planet is composed of hydrogen and helium gas and gradually transitions from the atmosphere to its fluid interior. 

Jupiter compared to Earth

Size comparison between Jupiter and Earth. NASA/Wikipeida Commons

Can humans go to Jupiter?

Humans cannot land on Jupiter. Jupiter does not have a solid surface that humans could land on. Instead, Jupiter’s atmosphere becomes denser and denser as you move toward its core.

The gas becomes so dense that it behaves more like a liquid. The extreme pressure and temperatures found in Jupiter’s atmosphere would make it extremely challenging for any spacecraft or equipment to survive, let alone for humans to land on the planet.

The History and Mythology of Jupiter

Jupiter has been observed and studied by humans for thousands of years. In ancient times, people believed that the movements of the planets in the sky had significant meanings and influences on human life. Jupiter was named after the Roman God of the same name, who was known as the king of the gods and the god of thunder and lightning.

In Roman mythology, Jupiter was often depicted as a powerful, bearded man holding a lightning bolt. He was also associated with the eagle, which was his sacred bird. The Romans believed that Jupiter was the protector of their state and their people.

Roman God Jupiter

The Roman God, Jupiter. Jupiter Mythology (Wikipedia)

Jupiter was also important in Greek mythology, where he was known as Zeus. In Greek culture, Zeus was considered the king of the gods and the ruler of the sky. He was often depicted holding a thunderbolt and was associated with the eagle and the oak tree.

In Hindu mythology, Jupiter is known as Brihaspati and is considered the guru (teacher) of the gods. In ancient Chinese culture, Jupiter was known as the Wood Star and was associated with the element of wood, which was believed to be a symbol of growth and new beginnings.

Throughout history, Jupiter has played an important role in human culture and mythology. Its prominence in the sky and its powerful presence have inspired countless stories and legends that continue to captivate people today.

Final Thoughts

Jupiter is one of those objects in the night sky that has the power to inspire more people to start looking up. To the average person, it will just look like a bright star in the sky, until they take a closer look.

One look at the planet Jupiter through a telescope reveals its moons, which immediately reminds us of our place in the solar system, and how tiny we really are. But it doesn’t end there, our solar system is just one of countless others in the Milky Way Galaxy, orbiting their own Suns. 

Jupiter is a constant reminder that we are living in an incomprehensibly large universe. Each time we look at Jupiter up close through a telescope, we experience the same thrill and rush of emotions early astronomers had when it was first discovered. 

Aurora on Jupiter

The Hubble Space Telescope captured Auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere. NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

Helpful Resources:

Jupiter Facts