Jupiter rotates once every 9.93 hours. Here's a movie with images taken about every 10 mintues for a 4.6-hour period (i.e., 46% of a rotation).

The most prominent feature is the dark red belt just north of the equator (north is up).  On the southern side of the equator is another reddish belt, but not quite as dark.  Embedded within it is the Great Red Spot (GRS), which has lost much of its redness since its discovery.  Behind the GRS (to its left) is a dark region, which is followed by many blobs of brightenings within the Southern Equatorial Belt, as it is called.  The Equatorial Zone appears uniformly bright, with only an occasional hint of a thin dark line at the equator.  North of the North Equatorial Belt is another dark belt, though much thinner in latitude extent.  It's called the North Temperate Belt.  Both polar regions are dark, with irregular borders with their neighboring zones.  Most of the image sharpness changes are due to real "atmospheric seeing" changes during the 3.7-hour observing period; the brightness and contrast changes are due to slightly different amounts of processing enhancements that were performed on each image.  [LX-200 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and Nikon Coolpix CCD camera, 1/2-inch FL eyepiece; 2002.01.16/17; Santa Barbara, CA residence. Each frame is an average of 2 to 4 individual exposures of duration 1/30 second; unsharp masking and Gamma 1.2 adjustments were performed using the "awesome" MaxIm DL image processing program.]

To view a full-scale version of this same movie (twice the size, or 4 times the area), click FULL_SIZE MOVIE.  Beware, the full-size movie is a large file (488 KB); but you can at least see some frames before the entire movie downloads (and you can always go back to this page if you get tired of waiting).


This set of three images, and the next set of three, are representative frames from the full-sized movie.  The System II central meridian longitudes (CML) are 77, 101 and 124 degrees.  The 6 images span an interval of 3.7 hours, or 37% of a rotation.  Essentially all discernible features are real based on the fact that they can be seen in neighboring images shifted the right amount in longitude.

The CMLs are 152, 174 and 230 degrees.

The first two images are resolution-enhanced versions of two taken from the set used in making the movie.  The CMLs are 096 and 101 degrees. The third image is an average of the first two; notice the longitude smearing that occurs in an interval of only 9 minutes.

1999.11.12, 0638 UT.  Note satellite shadow near south pole (bottom), cast by Jupiter's satellite Ganymede (to the right of the south pole, at bottom).  Innermost satellite Io is farther out to the right.  The Great Red Spot is rotating into view on the left, at the latitude of the south equatorial belt, SEB.  It is close to colorless now, and appears as a mere interruption to the SEB.  Both main belts straddling the equator appear brown.  The north equatorial belt, NEB, has longitude structure.  A faint equatorial belt is visible, although it seems to be formed by a boundary of a longitude series of light ovals situated between the equator and the NEB.  The north temperate belt is readily visible, just north of the NEB; there is no visible counterpart in the south.  The north polar region, tilted slightly to the earth, is darker than the light zones, yet not as dark as the belts.  Jupiter's apparent diameter is 48.7 arc seconds.  Meade LX200 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, f/6.2, using Canon color CCD camera (with auto-exposure and auto-focusing) positioned close to a 1/4-inch FL eyepiece in a 2x Barlow lens (500 power).

1999.11.12, 0808 UT.  During the 1.5 hours of rotation between this and the preceeding image, the Great Red Spot has rotated into view, showing its bland whitish coloring.  A few decades ago it was a bright red color.  The SEB to the left of the Great Red Spot seems "washed out."  More "light ovals" are discernible between the equator and NEB, arranged sequentially in logitude.  It is believed that the bright zones are due to high altitude "cirrus" clouds, whereas the dark belts are due to the lack of clouds and the resultant greater depth that our view has, thus probing the chemical composition of molecules in the altitudes below the zone cloud tops and allowing some colors to be preferentially absorbed.  The sun shines directly down upon a spot to the right of center, which probably acounts for the right side being slightly brighter than the left.

  . 2 frame animation

2004.05.03, 8:54 and 09:05 UT.  Two images taken 11 minutes apart, showing motion of inner satellites Europa (left) and Io (right). [Celestron CGE-1400 f/11 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, red filter, 0.3 second, an average of 2 images.]

2000.12.03, 07 UT (left) and 08:04 UT (right).  The left image shows moons Europa, Io and Callisto.  The image on the right was taken an hour later, after Callisto had moved to the right and in front of Jupiter.  Callisto is barely visible to the right of its shadow on Jupiter (on the lower-left).  North is up, west is to the right.  [Meade LX-200 10-inch f/6.2 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, with aperture stopped to 4.2-inch equivalent, using 1/2-inch FL eyepiece and Nikon Coolpix 990 color digital camera (digital zoom of x3.0), ISO 100, 1/4-second exposure, an average of two images.]

1956.  6-inch Newtonian with film camera (and inexperienced techniques).

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This site opened:  August 26, 1998.  Last Update:  May 12, 2004