This image of Jupiter was taken by Voyage I.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It is also one of the brighter objects in the night sky. No one knows for sure who discovered Jupiter, but we know the ancient Greeks named him after the god, Zeus.
The most famous feature of Jupiter is the Great Red Spot. This violent storm has been watched from Earth since the 1600's. But it wasn't until the 1930's that we knew what Jupiter was made of. Astronomer Rupert Wildt researched the planet and found the atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium.
Beginning in 1973, the United States sent four spacecraft to observe this giant planet. Pioneer 10 and 11, along with Voyager I and II, sailed past Jupiter. They gathered many images that we still see today.
Jupiter's moons are too! Galileo discovered four of the larger moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto in 1610. Most of the other moons were found by the Voyager spacecraft during its flyby.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
The Great Red Spot is thought to be a hurricane which has been raging on Jupiter for at least 400 years. The connected page shows an image of the Great Red Spot next to Tropical Storm Emily for comparison....more
The rare arrangement of planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the 1980's made it possible for the Voyager spacecrafts to visit them over a 12 year span instead of the normal 30. They used gravity...more
Anthony Wesley is an amateur astronomer in Australia. On the night of July 19, 2009, Wesley noticed a dark spot on Jupiter that hadn't been there before. He had discovered the remains of a huge impact...more
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It is also one of the brighter objects in the night sky. No one knows for sure who discovered Jupiter, but we know the ancient Greeks named him after...more
Jupiter's magnetosphere is very special. It is the biggest thing in the entire solar system. Not only is it big enough to hold all of Jupiter's moons, but the sun itself could fit inside. It goes all...more
Jupiter has a series of rings circling it! Unlike Saturn's rings, which are clearly visible from Earth even through small telescopes, Jupiter's rings are very difficult to see. So difficult, in fact, that...more
The giant planets have definitely changed since their formation. But how much remains to be seen. Most of the original air of the giant planets remains in place. (The earth-like planets lost most of their...more