Named for the king of the Roman gods, Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun after Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. It's about 800 million kilometers (almost 500 million miles) from the sun. It completes one orbit in a little over 4,300 days, compared to Earth's 365 days. Jupiter rotates once in about 10 hours, compared to Earth's 24 hours.
Jupiter's Orbit Is Elliptical
Jupiter's orbit isn't quite circular; the perihelion -- its closest point to the sun -- is a little over 740 million kilometers (460 million miles). Its aphelion -- the farthest point from the sun -- is 817 million kilometers (508 million miles). That's five times the distance between Earth and the sun, so Jupiter receives far less sunlight than Earth. Its orbital velocity is less than half as fast as Earth's.
Variable Distances Between Earth and Jupiter
National Geographic describes the distance between Earth and Jupiter as variable because both planets are moving in their orbits. When the planets are "at opposition," meaning Earth is directly between Jupiter and the sun, the planets are at their closest, about 594 million kilometers (370 million miles) apart. Radio signals need about 30 minutes to travel between them. At their farthest separation, when they're on opposite sides of the sun, they're about 900 million kilometers (560 million miles) apart, and radio signals take about 50 minutes to an hour to travel between them.
- Photo Credit Goce Mitevski/Hemera/Getty Images
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