Monday, May 20, 2013

The Great Red Spot (GRS) of Planet Jupiter

Planet Jupiter is the biggest and fifth planet of our solar system. This gigantic planet was named by the Romans after the king of the gods, Jupiter. Jupiter is one of five planets that can be seen by the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn are the other four); in fact, it is the second brightest planet after Venus. Among all its facts and features the most prominent and well-known feature of the planet Jupiter is the Great Red Spot (GRS) but it is not Jupiter's surface feature.

Planet Jupiter and its Great Red Spot
Jupiter's Great Red Spot nothing but is a huge, long-lasting spinning storm in the atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere of Jupiter. It is an anti-cyclonic (high pressure) storm, much like a gargantuan hurricane. Its color is actually pink to orange. This whirlwind varies in size and color from year to year. This spinning storm is the biggest storm of our solar system. The smaller white spots are also giant storms. The colors we see are the result of chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere.

Great Red Spot, the biggest storm of the solar system
The storm is so big that it is about 17,000 miles (28,000 km) long and 9,000 miles (14,000 km) wide and  in fact, three Earths wouldn't cover the Giant Red Spot completely.

Earth and Great Red Spot

Earth and Jupiter
Giovanni Cassini was the first to observe it in the late 1600s, from 1665 to 1713, so the Spot is pre-dates at least the time of Galileo in the 1600s, when humans first began using telescopes to observe the heavens. That means this particular storm has been raging continuously for over 400 years. Certainly the composition of Jupiter's atmosphere, the planet's density, mass and volume all contribute to the storm's longevity and there is speculation that the Spot's noticeable red color is due to a higher concentration of phosphorus within the storm.

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