Copyright 2003 Hap Griffin

Jupiter, the King of the Planets.  With an equatorial diameter eleven times that of Earth, it is truly a giant among planets.  It is more than twice as massive as all the other planets in the solar system combined.  As large as it is, however, Jupiter rotates on its axis in only 10 hours causing it to bulge noticeably at its equator.  Its fast rotation and subsequent rapid temperature changes give rise to high speed winds, averaging over 400 miles per hour and causing the distinct colored horizontal cloud bands seen in the photo.  

The famous "Great Red Spot" is clearly visible at the left side of the southern dark band.  This is apparently a violent long-term feature of the atmosphere, having been documented over 300 years ago.  It is larger than the Earth and rotates similar to a hurricane.  

The shadow of one of Jupiter's four largest moons is visible at the left side of the northern dark cloud band.  The current count of Jupiter's moons, including smaller, recently discovered ones, is over 50.


Date/Location:    March 21, 2003     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Meade 10" LX-200 with Logitec QuickCam Pro 4000
Focal Ratio:   f6.3 with additional 2X Barlow
Guiding:    None
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    52 F, Still wind
Film:    n/a
Exposure: 100 frames at 1/30 second each
Filters:    None
Processing:    Registered, stacked and wavelet processed in Registax, finished in Photoshop 6