Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun in our solar system, and is very different from Earth!
The gas giant has the shortest day among all the planets in our system, its poles do not rotate with the same speed as its equator, and the planet does not experience seasons as we do here on Earth!
How strange and fascinating. Read on to know more about each of these phenomena.
How Long Does Jupiter Take to Orbit the Sun?
Jupiter travels at a speed of 47,051 kilometers per hour. At this rate, it takes 11.8618 Earth years to complete its elliptical orbit the Sun, which is 11 years and 314.6 days.
How Long is a Day on Jupiter?
A day on Jupiter is just 10 hours long, compared to the 24 hours we’re used to on our much smaller planet. Despite its enormous size, Jupiter has the shortest day among all planets in our solar system.
One explanation to account for Jupiter’s swift rotation is its gaseous nature. Like other planets, Jupiter formed from the remnant from Sun’s creation (but is not big enough to become a star). The gas giant accumulated hydrogen and helium in the protoplanetary disk, and along with it the angular momentum of this gas.
The three gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus) contain most of the solar system’s angular momentum, which makes them spin faster than the inner, terrestrial planets.
Moreover, its gaseous nature means that the entire body does not rotate as a solid sphere. Instead, Jupiter’s equator rotates faster than its poles, which is why a day near the poles is 9 hours 56 minutes while near the equator it is 9 hours 50 minutes.
Seasonal Changes on Jupiter
Jupiter’s low tilt of 3 degrees results in no visible seasonal changes but, if we could see them, each season would last for three Earth years.
Every planet has a different calendar of seasons. On Earth, we are used to experiencing summer, fall, winter, and spring. But, this setup rarely occurs on other planets.
The type of seasons, their duration, and how frequently they occur depends on a number of factors like the planet’s tilt, the shape of its orbit, distance from the Sun, and its atmosphere.
Since Jupiter’s axis is tilted only 3 degrees (Earth’s is 23.5°) the amount of sunlight each area of the planet’s surface receives is unchanging. For this reason, its seasons are indistinguishable from each other.
Incidentally, it is Jupiter’s low axial tilt which contributes to its high rotation speed. As a rule of thumb, the lower the axial tilt, the greater the planet’s speed rotational speed.
While there are no seasons on Jupiter per se, there are minute changes in climate. Jupiter’s constant, turbulent atmosphere also causes severe storms, like the famous Great Red Spot.
Despite Jupiter’s enormous size, it only takes 10 hours to complete a rotation and has the shortest day among all our solar system’s planets.
Imagine sleeping, eating, and working within 10 hours!
At its distance of nearly 480 million miles from the Sun, the gas giant takes roughly 12 Earth years to complete a revolution.
Its low tilt prevents seasons like Earth from occurring, so we only notice minute changes in climate.
These are just a few more reasons why we’re fascinated to see if Jupiter is visible tonight.