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Jupiter, the eldest of the nine major planets of the solar system and the fifth in order of distance from the Sun. It is known since ancient times, being (along with Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn) one of the five planets visible to the naked eye.

Its elliptical orbit is the semi-major axis of 778 million km. During the year, its distance from Earth varies between 584 and 962 million km and, consequently, also vary its apparent magnitude and its angular diameter.

The period of its motion of revolution around the Sun is 11.86 years. It has a diameter of 142,984 kilometers (11.2 times that of Earth). The size of Jupiter is almost the maximum possible for a planet. The theoretical models indicate, in fact, that a body of mass a bit ‘greater than that of Jupiter would contract more, due to the own gravitational field, so ended up becoming smaller. Many of the current knowledge on the planet is based on data collected by the probes Pioneer 10 and 11 (who met him respectively in December 1973 and December 1974); Voyager 1 and 2 (who met him in March and July 1979); Galileo (which has been orbiting around the planet dal1995 to 2003); Ulysses (launched in 1990, met G. in February 1992) and Cassini (launched in 1997, met with Jupiter in December 2000).

Jupiter has a much lower density than that of the inner planets and almost identical to that of the sun. This suggests that it is essentially constituted by hydrogen and helium, roughly in the same proportion in which these two elements make up the sun. The most characteristic aspect of Jupiter’s surface, observable from Earth even with a modest telescope, is the alternation of light and dark bands (bands), arranged parallel to the equator. The areas are grayish, while the bands are variously colored, with a predominance of reddish and brown tones. The nature of these strips has been clarified thanks, especially, to the data collected by the Pioneer and Voyager probes. The visible surface of the planet is, in fact, a thick blanket of clouds that thickens upper atmosphere. Zones and bands originate from convection of atmospheric gases. They know more than 60 satellites of Jupiter, some of which very small in size (diameter of a few kilometers) and similar to Asteroids.

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Jupiter, the eldest of the nine major planets of the solar system.