Exploring the Outer Planets: Intro and Jupiter

While we have touched upon the inner planets, let’s consider the outer planets, which include Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter. When it comes to these four planets, they are often referred to as “gas giants” and are even called the “Jovian” planets. Together, they make up 99% of the mass known to orbit the Sun with a host of interesting facts attached to their existence.

With Uranus and Neptune, they are a bit different, as their atmosphere possesses a higher level of “ices” that includes ammonia, methane, and water. A handful of astronomers believe they should be placed into a category of their own with the title of “ice giants.”

All four of the planets showcase rings even though you hear so much about the rings of Saturn. This is because the ring system of Saturn is the only one that you can see from Earth. Sometimes, the term of outer planet is mixed up with superior planet, which is used to refer to planets found outside of the Earth’s orbit , this actually includes the outer planets and Mars (which is an inner planet). To learn a bit more about the ins and outs of Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter , consider the following information and facts:


The mass of Jupiter is so great that it totals 2 ½ times more than all of the other planets combined. It is made up of helium and hydrogen and possesses 63 satellites (that we know of). Jupiter is also known for the powerful internal heat that is responsible for generating a collection of semi-permanent features pertaining to its atmosphere, which includes the Great Red Spot and cloud bands. The largest satellites associated with Jupiter are Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, and Io. On these satellites, they share a few similarities to the terrestrial planets, which includes internal heating and volcanoes. Out of all the satellites, it is Ganymede that is the largest, which is actually larger in size than Mercury.

Facts About Jupiter

Jupiter is 318 times larger than Earth.

In the sky, Jupiter appears as the fourth brightest object , beaten only by Mars on occasions.

In regards to any planet in the Solar System, Jupiter spins at a faster rate on it axis. One day on Jupiter is actually close to 10 hours on Earth.

Jupiter is comprised of 89% hydrogen and 11% helium.

When it comes to the colorful texture of Jupiter, it is the tops of the gas clouds found in the atmosphere that is responsible for this appearance.

If you’ve ever wondered about the Great Red Spot, you will find that it is a high-pressure region comprised of clouds that move in a counter-clockwise direction. It is believed that red phosphorus is located in this spot.

Jupiter is sometimes referred to as Jove, as this was the king of the gods in Roman mythology and known as the son of Saturn.

In the second part of this article, prepare to learn more about the outer planets named Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn. Which one has a satellite named Titan? Which planet has satellites named after Shakespeare characters? Which one is the lightest of all outer planets?