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Jupiter, King of Planets



Jupiter, King of Planets
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    spacecraft, lasting, hydrogen, helium, terrestrial, rotation, atmosphere, orbit, paragraph, comparison, lies, inventor, bands, liquid, nighttime, credit
     content words:    Galileo Galilei, Great Red Spot, Giovanni Cassini, Red Spot


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Jupiter, King of Planets
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     Photo shows a side-by-side comparison of Jupiter and Earth. Photo credit: NASA
 
2     Have you ever tried to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar? Could you guess how many Earths could fit inside a Jupiter-sized jar? Would you guess one hundred? Five hundred? The answer can be found at the end of this story.
 
3     Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. All seven of the other planets together wouldn't weigh half as much as Jupiter. The Romans named Jupiter for the king of their gods, who was also known as Jove. Jupiter shines brightly in our nighttime sky. Only the moon and the planet Venus are brighter.
 
4     Jupiter and the Earth are both planets in the same solar system. They do not have much in common other than that. Jupiter is five times farther from the sun than Earth is. Earth is warm enough to have liquid water. Jupiter is very cold. Earth has solid land. Jupiter has none! Earth makes one orbit around the sun in about 365 days. Jupiter's year, however, is about 4,333 days - almost 12 Earth years. That's the time it takes Jupiter to make one trip around the sun moving at a speed of 29,205 mph! A day on Earth is about 24 hours long - the time it takes Earth to make one rotation on its axis. Jupiter, however, rotates very quickly, making one complete turn in nine hours fifty-five minutes. So a whole day and night on Jupiter is less than 10 hours long.
 
5     Over four hundred years ago, the Italian astronomer and inventor Galileo Galilei was the first person to see Jupiter through a telescope. He also saw four of Jupiter's moons. They were later named Io, Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. The four are often called the Galilean moons, after the man who first saw them. Today we know there are at least sixty-four moons orbiting Jupiter! Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury.

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