StarGazer’s Telescope: Jumpin’ Jupiter!

Article written: 30 Jul , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Greetings, Fellow Stratos Dwellers! Have you had more than your fair share of clouds lately and are hankering for a few photons? Skies haven’t been spectacular in this part of the world either and when it is clear, the heat is sure making it difficult to get a nice steady view. But, it’s a nice night out. Wanna’ take out the StarGazer’s telescope and have a look at Jupiter? I’ll see you in the back yard…

Yes. The skies are still hazy, but it’s a warm night. Isn’t it something to see Jupiter up there riding along on the Milky Way? Makes me think of that crazy song… “Now that’s she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair..” Ok! Ok! I know we have to keep it quiet or we’ll wake the neighbors. Careful walking around the edge of the pool while you’re looking up. I don’t want to have to fish you out! You’ll see the telescope set up right over there. Go ahead. The eyepiece is waiting on you.

What’s that? Oh, yeah. It is awesome! Did you know that it has two and a half times more mass than all of the other planets put together? In fact, if it had much more mass Jupiter would shrink. Don’t laugh! I’m not kidding. If Jupiter gained more weight it could have even conceivably been a star. Can you imagine that? Then we’d never have a dark night.

Hmmm? Yes. You’re right. There are very noticeable markings when it steadies down a bit. Those are the cloud zones. The white one in the center is the EZ. Now quit that laughing! It stands for equatorial zone. The dark one underneath the EZ is the north equatorial belt and the one on top of it is the south. Yes. There’s lots of other fine lines, too. Below the north equatorial belt is the tropical and temperate zones. Same goes for the south up above. Just a bunch of fast moving ammonia crystals with maybe a little ammonium hydrosulfide thrown in for good measure. As phosphorus, sulfur or maybe even hydrocarbons swirl up from below, the ultraviolet light from Sol gives ’em a little suntan.

Hey! You saw it? Good for you! Yep. Just a little right of center in the southern tropical zone. That’s why I called you out here tonight. The Great Red Spot isn’t all that red, is it? Just a strange, salmon colored oval that shows up every now and again when things steady off. Yes, it sure is a storm. An anticyclonic storm that we know started at least as early as 1831 and maybe even as early as 1665. Sometimes it rotates fast and sometimes it rotates slow, but it always rotates counterclockwise to Jupiter. No one really knows why it is the color it is, but we do know its cooler than the other cloudtops and big enough at times to swallow three planet Earths. Now, move over…

It’s my turn.


3 Responses

  1. erika says

    Maybe that’s the reason why I can’t see the great red spot in my 4″ scope ?

  2. Astrofiend says

    Great! Keep ’em coming…

  3. ALan says

    “There’s never be a dark night …”
    Is this like the dark side of the moon ?
    Figure of speech ?
    When Jupiter is opposite the sun ?
    Most nights would still be dark, but it would be different and sometimes it would be like Tatooine !

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