A description of Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun. The text discusses Jupiter's distinguishing characteristics, its position in the solar system, its composition and atmospheric conditions, its moons and rings, and how scientists have learned about Jupiter over time. Color photos and diagrams enhance understanding of the text.
The "Early Bird Astronomy" series introduces beginning astronomers to the planets in five chapters of simple text augmented by lots of pictures, many in bright colors on black backgrounds. Jupiter, "king of the planets," is described and shown in the night sky. (Galileo's drawing of his observations of Jupiter's moons is even reproduced.) Chapter two places Jupiter in our solar system with pictures and diagrams of its orbit, rotation (speedy), revolution, and comparative size (huge). Another section shows photos of the planet's clouds, storms and Great Red Spot; balloons and a boiling pot illustrate the gases—helium and hydrogen—of Jupiter's atmosphere. Kids may be surprised to learn that Jupiter has at least one ring, but here they learn that scientists have discovered four, which are sometimes considered parts of one large ring. They may also be astonished to learn that the planet has sixty-three moons, several of which—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto—are pictured. Chapter five points out that while astronomers could learn only so much with telescopes, our knowledge of the planet has been expanded by photos from spacecraft and information from the space probe Galileo. Color illustrations of Europa's surface and volcanic eruptions on Io are especially striking. Parents may find the page "On Sharing a Book" helpful. Includes a bibliography of books and websites, as well as a glossary and an index for young readers. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft