2/10/2013 Archives: The Galilean Moons of Jupiter
In many ways Jupiter and its moons are like a mini-solar-system. Jupiter itself has 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets combined, and while it is only about 1/1,000th the mass of our Sun, it is still a giant planet with about 1/13th the mass needed to be considered a Brown Dwarf. Jupiter not only has the largest moon in the solar system (Ganymede), its other three Galilean moons rank within the top 6 largest moons in the Solar System, and it has a total of 63 known satellites.
Galileo was the first human to observe Jupiter’s four largest moons, and he was the first to see objects orbiting another body (other than the Earth and Sun) Even scientists outside of the astronomy community have become excited about these moons. Geologists study the super-active surface/volcanoes of Io and Biologists study the potential for life living in tidally-warmed seas underneath the ice on Europa.
Above is a photo I snapped last night of Jupiter and its four Galilean moons which I have labeled. The exposure was set from my Orion (M42) photo so Jupiter ended up blowing out its surface details.