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This picture shows Jupiter in ultraviolet "light". Can you see Jupiter's glowing aurora above the North Pole (top) and South Pole (bottom)?
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of J. Clarke and G. Ballester (U. of Michigan), J. Trauger and R. Evans (JPL) and NASA.

The Poles of Jupiter and its Moons

Jupiter has interesting poles. The poles of some of its large moons are interesting too. Io is one of the big moons. Io has volcanoes near its poles! The other big moons are covered with ice, like Earth's polar regions.

All planets have a pretend axis that they spin around. The North and South Poles are the places where that axis pokes through the planet's surface. Some planets are tipped over on their sides. Jupiter isn't. Jupiter is almost perfectly straight up and down. It is only tilted about 3. Earth is tilted more than 23. Jupiter's magnetic field is tilted more than its spin axis. Its magnetic field is tilted almost 10. That's almost the same as Earth... our magnetic field is tilted 11.

Jupiter spins faster than any other planet in our Solar System. Jupiter is not solid rock like Earth. It is a big ball of gas and liquids. Jupiter's fast spin makes it bulge out at the equator. The diameter of Jupiter at its equator is more than the diameter between the poles.

When radiation particles hit gases in Earth's atmosphere, the atmosphere glows. That's what causes the "Northern Lights" (also called the aurora). Jupiter has aurora too. They form over both of Jupiter's poles.

Earth is cold near the poles and hot near the equator. Jupiter is about the same temperature all over. That's because most of its heat comes from inside Jupiter instead of from sunlight. The poles of Jupiter are just as warm as the equator!

Last modified August 3, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA