Texas Celestial Series #1 - Jupiter LbNA # 23198
|Placed Date||Jun 22 2006|
|Location||Fort Davis, TX|
|Last Update||Sep 15 2013|
Texas Celestial Series #1 - Jupiter
It seemed only fitting that Jupiter was the first object viewed when we attended a viewing party at McDonald Observatory. Gazing through the dark cold of space, Jupiter’s beautiful surface was banded with reds, browns, and whites and the Giant Red Spot was easily visible. Slight chemical and temperature differences, as well as high velocity winds blowing in opposite directions, are responsible for the light-colored zones and dark-colored belts that dominate the planet’s appearance. These winds exceed 400 miles per hour and are driven by internal heat rather than solar input from the Sun.
In ancient times, Jupiter was known as the “wandering star” and named after the Roman God Jove (also known to the Greeks as Zeus). Twice as massive as all the other planets combined, Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky and the fifth planet from the Sun. Composed of 90% hydrogen and 10% helium, with trace amounts of methane, water, ammonia and “rock” it does not have a solid surface. The gaseous materials simply get denser with depth.
One of Jupiter’s main identifying characteristic is the Giant Red Spot which is an oval about 12,000 by 25,000 km, big enough to hold two Earths. Scientists do not know why this structure has persisted for more than 300 years, but do know this spot is a high-pressure region whose cloud tops are significantly higher and colder than surrounding areas.
In addition to its dominating size, alternating bands, and vivid colors, Jupiter also has another distinguishing characteristic – it has more moons than any other planet. At present, 63 satellites have been identified. Galileo discovered Jupiter’s large moons Europa, Io, Ganymede and Callisto and recorded their motions back and forth around Jupiter. This was the first discovery of a center of motion not apparently centered on the Earth and was a major point in favor of Copernicus’s heliocentric theory.
Tonight, step outside and cast your gaze to the sky. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and see a bright light beckoning you to explore the heavens.
“We shall not cease from exploration; and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” - T. S. Eliot
Directions: The letterbox is located on Hwy. 118 approximately ½ mile SE (towards Fort Davis) from the McDonald Observatory entrance at a pull-off area with a brown litter barrel on the left side of the road. Stand with your back to the barrel,facing away from the road, and look uphill at 70 degrees magnetic. To the left, you will see a fence corner-post. To the right, along the fence line, is a large live oak tree. Between these two points, next to the fence line, are two rocks, each wrapped with a single strand of barbed wire. The box is nestled under the inside of the rock on the right. Please rehide well and let me know the status of the box!