O

Atmosphere

Mantle of metallic hydrogen

Atmosphere

Rocky core

Fig. 4.11. A simplified model of Jupiter's interior. (Courtesy John W. McAnally).

Rocky core

Fig. 4.11. A simplified model of Jupiter's interior. (Courtesy John W. McAnally).

observations have determined that Jupiter actually emits 1.67 times more heat than it absorbs from the Sun [174].

Jupiter radiates the heat from its very hot interior. The prime candidate for this heat is primordial and gravitational heat since the planet has not finished cooling and contracting since it formed. Or, alternatively the heat could be caused by contraction of the planet at 1 mm per year [175].

Although amateurs cannot directly observe the chemistry, pressure, and temperatures that drive the activity in Jupiter's atmosphere, a basic understanding of these mechanisms can help us appreciate even more the visible features we observe. By understanding the processes that create the features we see, we gain an insight into the planet not perceived by visual observations alone. To me, every aspect of the study of Jupiter is fascinating. But, the understanding of pressure and temperature and how they affect cloud structure has new meaning for amateurs. We have discussed how methane, ammonia, and other elements exist at various pressures and temperature, and how observing at specific wavelengths can provide information concerning the vertical structure of the clouds. Today, the ability of amateurs to observe at anything other than visible and methane wavelengths is limited. However, advances are being made. In recent years, more than just a handful of amateurs are observing in the methane band. Recently when I sent an amateur's CCD image of Jupiter in methane to Dr. Reta Beebe at New Mexico State University, she remarked to me, "Now, this is very useful!" (Beebe, personal communication). Methane is only the beginning. Thus, an understanding of Jupiter's atmospheric structure becomes even more important. Surely in this century, with technology advancing so rapidly, amateurs will find more and more wavelengths at their disposal. I think before the century is over, amateurs will be doing what professionals are doing today.

Chapter 5

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