Common Visual Markings

Although we should never approach the observation of Jupiter with any preconceived notion of what may be seen, it can be useful to have an understanding of the type of features that may be present at any given time. The bright ovals, eddies, and condensations are evidence of great turmoil and chaos in the visible atmosphere of Jupiter. Features seen in Jupiter's cloud tops are not stationary, and may be short or long lived. Knowing this, I think the observation of these features is all the more tantalizing. You may wish to review the figures and tables in Chap. 2 again while studying this chapter.

Generally, the planet is made up of clouds that have organized themselves into dark belts and bright zones, due mainly to the rapid rotation of the planet. The belts and zones are defined by powerful jet streams that are permanent winds blowing eastward or westward. Dark spots and bright ovals are storms that drift eastward or westward at slower rates. The rapid rotation of the planet causes all motions to be channeled along lines of latitude; thus the belts and zones run east and west. See Fig. 2.1 in Chap 2, which depicts the placement of belts and zones and nomenclature.

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