How Far is Jupiter From the Sun?

by Jerry Coffey on June 16, 2008

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Sun, seen from Jupiter. Image credit: NASA
As you know from reading previous posts here on Universe Today a planet’s distance from the Sun varies daily as it follows its orbit. If this is your first time on our site, then Welcome Aboard and read on. To make things easier, the answer to ”how far is Jupiter from the Sun” will be simply given for its perihelion and aphelion. At perihelion(closest point), Jupiter is 741 million km or 4.95 astronomical units(AU) from the Sun. At aphelion(farthest point) it is 817 million km or 5.46 AU. That gives Jupiter a semi-major axis of 778 million km or 5.2 AU and a mild eccentricity of 0.048. Remember, one AU is equal to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Since we are discussing some of the parameters of Jupiter’s orbit. Let’s get a little more in depth. Jupiter takes 11.86 Earth years(4331 Earth days) to complete one orbit around the Sun. The planet is traveling at 13 km/s in its orbit. The planet has a slightly inclined orbit; about 6.09° compared to the ecliptic(the Sun’s equator). Jupiter is the only planet that has a center of mass with the Sun that lies outside of the Sun’s radius. Jupiter has a slight axial tilt of 3.13 degrees, which means that it does not experience noticeable seasons. If you are interested in knowing exactly where Jupiter is in its orbit on any given day, try this NASA link.

Jupiter’s orbit is interesting, but the planet’s rotation is also fascinating. Jupiter rotates every 10 hours. That makes it the fastest rotating planet in our Solar System. As with all planets, Jupiter is an oblate spheroid, meaning that it is slightly flattened and bulges at the middle. This is caused by rotational speed. The effect is more pronounced on Jupiter and can be directly seen from Earth with a small telescope. Jupiter has an equatorial diameter that is 9275 km larger than when the diameter is measured through the poles. Being a gas giant, Jupiter is not a solid body, so different parts of the planet’s atmosphere rotate at different speeds. The atmosphere at the equator rotates about 5 minutes faster than the atmosphere at the poles.

The answer to ”how far is Jupiter from the Sun” is pretty straight forward, but that might be the only clear answer about the planet. You may find as many mysteries as answers by researching the Jovian system.

If you’re interested, here’s an article from Universe Today about how far Jupiter is from Earth.

Windows on the Universe has some interesting statistics about Jupiter. And you can always use NASA’s Solar System simulator to see exactly where Jupiter is right now.

We’ve also recorded an entire show just on Jupiter for Astronomy Cast. Listen to it here, Episode 56: Jupiter, and Episode 57: Jupiter’s Moons.

Sources:
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Jupiter&Display=Facts
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Jupiter&Display=OverviewLong

sarah October 7, 2008 at 3:27 PM

Jupiter is very far from sun.

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