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Antonio da Correggio: "Jupiter and Io" (1532). The painting depicts Jupiter in the form of a cloud as he steals a kiss from the beautiful river nymph Io.
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Kunsthistorishes Museum, Vienna

Io

Io was a beautiful priestess of the Roman goddess, Juno. Juno was the jealous wife of Jupiter, the king of the gods. Jupiter was indeed very unfaithful. When Jupiter fell in love with Io, he transformed himself into the shape of a dark cloud to hide himself from his jealous wife Juno.

Juno saw the cloud and knew it was her husband. As soon as Juno was approaching, Jupiter turned Io into a white cow to avoid his wife. But Juno tied the poor cow and sent her faithful servant Argus to watch over Io. Argus had a hundred eyes and only a few were ever closed at any time. To free Io, Jupiter sent his son Mercury to sing and tell boring stories to make Argus sleep with all his eyes. Mercury then set Io free.

The Jovian moon Io was named for the mythological character Io by Johannes Kepler and Simon Marius. And finally, when Voyager 1 passed Io in March 1979 and imaged the surface, the image clearly showed the hoof print of a heifer!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF