too large for Earth to survive as we see it today. The recent 1994 collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter is a great example of Jupiter as protector of the solar system.

Jupiter exhibits differential rotation; that is, different latitudes of the planet have different rotation rates. Generally, System I includes the latitudes from the north edge of the south equatorial belt, all of the equatorial zone, to the south edge of the north equatorial belt. System I also includes the south edge of the north temperate belt. System II includes the rest of the planet. Since amateurs in the past have observed Jupiter in visible wavelengths, it has been common practice for them to refer to System I and II. Professional astronomers have generally used a third rotation system, System III. The System III rotation rate is related to a radio source on Jupiter that rotates with the planet at a specific rate. Since these three rotation rates are different, we must designate which system we are referring to when we speak of longitudinal positions on Jupiter. Depending upon the latitude at which a feature appears on Jupiter, amateurs refer to System I or II longitude. This usage will become more apparent in the section of this book dealing with transit timings. Table 2.1 summarizes Jupiter's physical data and orbital characteristics.

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