Photo Courtesy of NASA


The largest planet


Jupiter, one planet in the Solar System and the fifth planet found from the Sun.  Jupiter is in fact the biggest of all planets found in the Solar System of today.  Jupiter is a huge planet and it is a gas giant planet also; though it doesn’t quite compare to the Sun, it certainly is more dangerous than many of the other planets out there.

Since this is a gas planet, it is similar to that of Neptune, Saturn and Uranus because they too are gas giant planets. Though, Jupiter is one of the four outer or Jovian Planets. Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are called the Jovian Planets because of their mass and because they are a gas giant. This has been a planet which has been around for many decades, if not hundreds of years.  It certainly was discovered well before modern times.

In many cultures such as in Roman times, the Romans used to worship the god Jupiter and they named this planet after their god. It has been closely associated with a lot of different beliefs for religion as well as myths surrounding many of the world’s oldest secrets and myths. Though, it can be seen from the Earth and it will be one of the brightest objects in the sky. It can really only be seen at night but it is not as bright as the Moon and the Planet Venus.

Though, Mars can at some points, be as bright as Jupiter but it depends on where it is in the orbit stage.  It certainly going to be one of the brightest planets out in the Solar System today and many people do look for this planet as night falls.

The Gas Giant

However, Jupiter is mostly made up of hydrogen gas but helium does also play a part of the planet. Helium however only makes up a small portion of Jupiter whereas the hydrogen really covers most of the planet. The planet is not really going to be able to have a good solid surface; it doesn’t and it can be difficult to explore also. It’s said that the core of the planet is rockier and is considerably heavier than what most other planets will be.

The gas giant does have a very quick rotation period which means that the shape of the planet is sort of odd. It’s an oblate spheroid which isn’t quite round but not quite a circle shape either, it’s something in between a circle and sphere. It does sort of have a large bulge near the equator which can often be seen which gives the planet a very odd looking shape.

Jupiter Facts and Information
The Great Red Spot / Photo Courtesy of NASA

However, the outer atmosphere of the planet is going to be split or segregated into different parts; and this is at different latitude heights. What this creates is a bigger turbulence problem as well as storms which cause a lot of problems along their interacting boundary. What these problems can create is the Great Red Spot which has been around for many, many years; since the 17th century, this giant storm has been in existence due to what is thought of to be because of the turbulence and storms forming around the planet.

The Great Red Spot was first seen in the 17th through a telescope but it could have been around for longer.  There is nothing to say it hasn’t been there for longer but that was when it was first seen. Many have speculated that the Great Red Spot storm has been around for more than just the 17th century but it’s unknown for sure.

The Planetary Rings and Moons

Jupiter has a planetary ring system that surrounds the planet, however it also has a very strong and powerful magnetosphere. These rings are a very faint ring system but they can’t often be seen.  Many people do not in fact know there is a planetary ring system surrounding the planet but it is a very important part of the planet.

The Planet Jupiter does have 67 different moons – there might actually be more but only 67 have been discovered so far. There are still many more explorers trying to find a new moon of Jupiter and add to the collection. However, of all known moons to date, it is the Galilean moons which are of the biggest. There are four of them and these are very big, bigger than most and they were the moons that were discovered by Galileo Galilei back in the year 1610.  Though, the biggest moon of all, has to be the Ganymede Moon; this has a huge diameter which is bigger than Mercury the planet. That is a huge size for just one moon.

Jupiter has seen its fair share of explorations; though all of the explorations have been conducted by robotic spacecrafts.  This means that no man has actually landed on the planet themselves and has allowed the robotic spacecraft to explore the planet.  More often than not, it is the flyby missions that have explored the planet especially during some of the earliest missions by Voyager and Pioneer.

Though, the New Horizons spacecraft back in 2007, was on its way to Pluto when it explored part of the planet. Though, ingeniously the craft was able to gain more speed via the gravity of Jupiter and that which surrounded it. There have also been more future exploration targets set because explorers want to know more about the Jovian moons and how the system works.  It is thought that there is a ice covered liquid ocean on Europa which is a moon in the Jovian range and people want to know if this is true or not. There is a big belief there is a liquid ocean on the Jupiter moon that has been iced over.

Jupiter moons
Europa, a Jupiter’s Moon / Photo Courtesy of NASA

The Structure of Jupiter

Jupiter is thought to have a dense core; and it could have a mixture of different elements supporting the core with a liquid metallic hydrogen layer outlined with helium. It is also thought to have an outer layer which is hydrogen also; though this is a rough guess because the core isn’t very well known as yet. It may have been discovered many, many years ago but there are still a lot of areas to be covered and discovered also.  For many, they think the core is rocky and exact details are hard to pick up because there is a lot of uncertainty.

There is speculation that the core has to be made up of either rock or ice; the reason why is because most believe the core needs to very big, big enough to be able to collect a huge amount of gasses such as helium and hydrogen. The atmosphere however on the planet’s surface is quite big. It does have the Solar System’s biggest planetary atmosphere and technically there is no surface. It’s difficult to describe because it have a very odd shaping, no one has actually reached the surface to see.  It’s made up of gas which is dangerous and almost impossible to explore by man. This is a huge and exciting planet with so much unexplored also.


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What Is A Thunderstorm?


Thunderstorms are some of the most frightening and powerful storms to hit the world.  A thunderstorm can be known as a lightning storm, a thundershower or even an electrical storm.  A thunderstorm is one of the most powerful storms to hit and it forms when the weather is turbulent.  This is when the wind picks up greatly and rain is present, though this doesn’t always need to be present.  However, lightning and the noise of thunder creates the thunderstorms and if there are certain types of clouds in the sky – cumulonimbus, then it could result in thunderstorms.

On most occasions, thunderstorms will bring on heavy rain falls and strong winds.  However, these are the most common types of weather associated with thunderstorms but there are other types of weather that can accompany a thunderstorm.  Things such as hail, sleet and snow are all common factors to present itself during a thunderstorm.  Some thunderstorms can rotate, if they are quite severe, then they can create supercells which are some of the worst thunderstorms.

How Thunderstorms Are Are Created?

A thunderstorm can be created because of a sharp or rapid surge of moist and warm air.  However, as the warm and moist air moves upwards into the air, it will cool down and condenses.  When the air does this, the air will form new cumulonimbus clouds.  These cumulonimbus clouds can in fact reach huge heights of almost 20 kilometres, sometimes much more than that.

Once the air reaches a certain point, at the dew point, ice and water droplets are going to form and start falling towards the earth and the earth’s surface.  It falls from a large distance; however, once the droplets fall, they will be larger because they join up with other droplets.  Once the droplets are falling, they will create a new downdraft of the air which will spread out vastly across the surface.  This creates winds – strong winds which coincide with thunderstorms.

  • Hail
  • Rain
  • Strong Winds
  • Snow
  • Sleet

These are some of the things to spot when it comes to thunderstorms.

Electrical storm facts
Lightning and church

Where Can Thunderstorm Form?

A thunderstorm can be formed or created in almost any location around the world.  Though, the countries that are mid latitude – this is when the air is moist and warm but comes into contact with cool air.  Thunderstorms can form anywhere if the air is warm and moist and comes into cooler air.  Though, most thunderstorms can be very severe and can cause a lot of damage to landscapes and populated areas also.

Though, most damage that comes from a thunderstorm is due to the larger hailstones which fall with the storm and the down burst winds.  Though, on occasion, there have been flash floods to cause a lot of damage.  Though, with some thunderstorm formations, they can be very strong or – super cells as they can also be known as, and cause water sprouts and even tornadoes.  There are some instances which are not going to be too severe and won’t be anything more than a small rain shower.  Some thunderstorm cells which are stronger than average storms can be fifty times the energy of an a bomb.

The Different Types of Thunderstorms

There are however four different types of thunderstorms including;

  1. Supercells which are the most powerful thunderstorms available
  2. A single cell which are smaller and not too severe
  3. A multi cell cluster which is stronger than a single cell storm
  4. Multi cell lines which are just below a super cell

The super cells are the strongest of thunderstorms that form; and if the thunderstorms are present in the tropics, it could contribute to hurricanes.  However, there are also dry thunderstorms which don’t cause any rain, hail or snow fall, but they can cause wildfire outbreaks.  This happens because of the lightning that occurs; there might not be any hail or rain but lightning still occurs and causes wildfires.

Many weather observers use things such as weather stations and weather radar to help keep a close eye over pending weather storms including thunder.  Interesting though, it has been known for some thunderstorms, can be created on both Venus and Jupiter and not just here on Earth.

The Cycle of a Thunderstorm

The cycle of a thunderstorm firstly starts off with warm air.  The warm air needs to have a lower density than cooler air because the air will start to rise actually within the cool air.  When this happens, clouds will start to form and they will become a little warmer because inside the clouds, it will now carry moisture.

The moisture will condense and when it does, it will release energy out; however, what this does is to cool the air of the condensed air but the surrounding air will stay the same.  If there is instability in the atmosphere then it will create cumulonimbus clouds and that helps to create thunder and lightning.  However, for thunderstorms to form, they need moisture, unstable air mass and a lifting force such as heat to create a thunderstorm.

There are different stages to create a thunderstorm.  There is the developing stage, then the mature stag and finally the dissipation stage.  Though, the thunderstorms can vary from size but for the average storm, it is around 24 kilometres.  The period of time in which the thunderstorms can develop is anything from thirty minutes.

Thunderstorm facts and information
Thundershower, electrical storm or thunderstorm.

When the thunderstorm hits the cumulus stage, or the developing stage; a mass of moisture will be taken up towards the atmosphere.  When the moisture goes into the air, the wind will be forced upwards into the atmosphere and will help to develop the thunderstorm.  However, the moisture will start cooling and this will form water drops because of the cool temperatures at a high altitude.

With the mature stage, the air which is now warm will rise further up and will continue to do so until it cannot rise any further and the air becomes at its warmest point.  When it reaches this point, the air will be forced out a vast area and will start to create an anvil shape creating the cumulonimbus clouds.  The water drops will then start to grow larger because they will join up with one another.  They will now be heavier and larger and will start to freeze into ice particles.  Though, as the ice falls, it will become, or rather melt, into rain.

With the final or dissipating stage, the thunderstorm is created.  A downdraft will work up and hit the ground quickly and spread out vastly also.  This can be known as a downburst and the cool air will then cut the inflow and stop the thunderstorm also.  The thunderstorm will dissipate.

The super cell storms are the biggest and the most severe storms to hit.  This is when the super cell storms have different up and down drafts causing the super cell.  It can stretch out to a vast area and can cause a lot of devastation and damage.  When the super cells are created, it will mean that the storms will be accompanied with severe weather.


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