A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Word Art: Jupiter [Astronomy Series]

Jupiter was the first planetary symbol that, blessedly, didn’t saddle me with the tricky business of filling in words around a circle.  It’s also not a symbol that has too many pop-cultural associations, so people either know what it is on sight or have no idea whatsoever.

I started it on Thursday morning, the day before I was supposed to take the work to Chattacon.  Procrastination had once again backed me into a corner and I prayed to make it at least as far as Saturn by the end of the day.  (Fortunately, I made it all the way to Neptune.)



The largest planet in the solar system.

Two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in the solar system put together.

Unsurprisingly, it has been named after the Roman version of Zeus, the king of the gods.

The gas giant planets, of which this is one, are also collectively known as the Jovian planets.

Its twelve year cycle may be been the source of the twelve houses of astrology.

There is a storm that has raged in its skies for centuries, a red eye staring into space that is large enough to envelop the Earth thrice over.

The surface (if it can be called that) does not provide enough friction to slow it, so it spins and drifts at its latitude, though it shows signs of fading by degrees–it does not seem to be quite as large as it was a century or so in the past.

We have been looking in Jupiter’s direction for a very long time.

It is said that the very first transit of Ganymede across the face of Jupiter to be seen by human eyes was by Gan De, who saw it on a clear night without even a telescope to aid his vision, some thousands of years before Galileo Galilei put his telescope to use and saw no less than four distinct lights in the vicinity of Jupiter and came to realize that these objects in fact moved in such a path that it was clear that they circled around Jupiter the way that our moon circles Earth.

He attempted to name them after the Medici brothers, but those names are now nothing more than a quaint historical footnote.

We now know them by the name given them by Simon Marius, another astronomer who also saw these moons around the time that Galileo did.

Marius used the names of lovers of Zeus–Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

They are still known collectively as the Galilean moons.

For a time even Marius’ names were not widely used and instead the moons were numbered in order of their distance from the planet they circled.

This method is still in use to some degree but was disrupted when moons farther inward than Io were found, which rather changed the numbering.

The last planetary satellite to be discovered by the human eye is here–Amalthea (aka Jupiter V) seen in 1892 by Edward Emerson Barnard.

The movements of the Galileian moons disrupted the long-held notion that the Earth was the center of the Universe and that all celestial to be seen spun around it in some way.

(There was much handwaving about ‘spheres’ to account for retrograde motion.)

If Jupiter were any larger, it would have become, in fact, smaller, as the gravitational pull of the mass would have drawn all things into itself.

It is shrinking ever so slowly. At a rate of 2 centimeters per Earth year.

Its composition is quite similar to the substance of the Sun, though in different proportion.

It radiates more heat than it gains from the heat of the Sun.

It also has a magnetosphere that is so powerful and so large that if it were to be visible to our eyes, it would be larger than the Moon in our skies.

Its gravitational pull is strong enough to pull comets from the sky and break them to bits.

Indeed, the last time it happened it was quite the astronomical event.

When the comet known as Shoemaker-Levy 9 came apart and slammed into Jupiter’s atmosphere, nearly every astronomical eye was turned to bear witness.

Telescopes on the ground and telescopes and spacecraft in the sky took note and watched to see what would happen.

One impact alone from Fragment G was estimated to be the energetic equivalent of dropping the entire nuclear arsenal of the Earth six hundred times over.

They saw the fireballs flare and the plumes of the atmosphere and meticulously measured every last bit of it, finding substances like diatomic sulfur and carbon disulfite, which were surprises to scientists at the time.

(Jupiter, one could say, has a tendency to baffle the expectations of commonly held theory.)

We threw our own object into Jupiter eventually–the spaceship called Galileo.

Again, facts were written in roughly in order of what looked interesting, from historical discoveries to the red eye storm to the sheer delightful geekery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and those who watched to see it collide with the planet.  By this point, I’d gotten better at figuring out roughly how much information to gather in advance in order to fill the 3-inch-by-5-inch spaces designated for the text, which sped the process up considerably.

Prints of this work are available here.

The original is not for sale.

3 comments to Word Art: Jupiter [Astronomy Series]

  • Neata imi place blogul tau sa vrei faci link echange cu siteul meu?

  • Sheila the Wonderbink

    Vă rugăm să nu mă face să regret acest lucru.

  • Sheila the Wonderbink

    For those of y’all reading the above exchange and scratching their heads–Google Translate was kind enough to let me know that the comment was something to the effect of “Good Morning, blog! Wanna exchange links?” in Romanian. (I’m translating it even more loosely than the Google did.) The blog it led to appears to belong to a live human being and not a spambot, so I let it through and used the Google to translate the phrase “Please don’t make me regret this” from English into Romanian. So there you are.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.