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10 Things: May 15
15 May 2017
(Source: NASA)

Our solar system's largest planet is making a good showing in night skies right now. Look for it in the southeast in the evening this month. With binoculars, you may be able to see the four largest moons. Here are some need-to-know facts about the King of the Planets:

1. The Biggest Planet: With a radius of 43,440.7 miles (69,911 kilometers), Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth. If Earth were the size of a nickel, Jupiter would be about as big as a basketball.
2. Fifth in Line: Jupiter orbits our sun, a star. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun at a distance of about 484 million miles (778 million km) or 5.2 Astronomical Units (AU). Earth is one AU from the sun.


3. Short Day / Long Year: One day on Jupiter takes about 10 hours (the time it takes for Jupiter to rotate or spin once). Jupiter makes a complete orbit around the sun (a year in Jovian time) in about 12 Earth years (4,333 Earth days).


4. What's Inside? Jupiter is a gas-giant planet without a solid surface. Jupiter may have a solid, inner core about the size of Earth.


5. Atmosphere: Jupiter's atmosphere is made up mostly of hydrogen (H2) and helium (He).


6. Many Moons: Jupiter has 53 known moons, with an additional 14 moons awaiting confirmation of their discovery --a total of 67 moons.


7. Ringed World: Jupiter has a faint ring system that was discovered in 1979 by the Voyager 1 mission. All four giant planets in our solar system have ring systems.


8. Exploring Jupiter: Many missions have visited Jupiter and its system of moons. The Juno spacecraft is currently orbiting Jupiter.


9. Ingredients for Life? Jupiter cannot support life as we know it. However, some of Jupiter's moons have oceans underneath their crusts that might support life.


10. Did You Know? Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm (about the size of Earth) that has been raging for hundreds of years.


See previous editions of 10 Things.

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Last Updated: 15 May 2017