As the fifth planet out from the Sun, Jupiter is definitely some distance out from the center of our solar system. And in comparison to Earth, you may actually be surprised by just how far out it is. But exactly how far is the planet Jupiter from the big ball of gas that we all orbit?
The truth is that Jupiter’s rotation period is pretty long. So, we’re going to take a quick look at the distance throughout time, and how it can vary too.
How long does it take Jupiter to revolve around the Sun?
The answer is that it takes Jupiter 4333 days for it to complete one full orbit of the Sun. As it’s much further out from the center of our solar system than Earth is, it’s pretty obvious that it’d take longer than us.
This is just one of many interesting facts about the planet Jupiter, and most people would assume that it’d be longer than a year on Earth. However, you may not have anticipated that a year on Jupiter would be equal to more than 4,300 Earth days, which is around twelve Earth years
So when we compare this to our planet and learn that it takes almost twelve times the amount of time for Jupiter to complete one lap of the Sun than it takes us to, most people are surprised by this extremely lengthy orbital period. This is a lot, but it’s still relatively short when compared with the amount of time it takes Neptune to complete a full orbit – more than 60,000 days.
Why does it take Jupiter so long to orbit the Sun? Well, the obvious answer is that because it’s further away from the Sun, the longer it takes to make the full trip. And this is right – the diameter of the orbit Jupiter has to follow to get all the way around the Sun is much greater than ours, which means it takes much longer.
But this isn’t actually the only reason why. It also comes down to the gravitational pull of the Sun too – the closer you are to the Sun, the stronger the gravitational pull, and therefore, the faster the planet orbits. Whilst the Earth travels at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour around the Sun, Jupiter is less than half this at only 29,000 miles per hour. So not only has it got further to travel, but it also does it at a slower speed too.
Jupiter’s orbital pattern & rotation
If we look at the average distance from the Sun to Jupiter across the entire span of its orbit, it comes out at around 5x that of Earth, or 5.2 AU, which is approximately 483 million miles. Although its orbital pattern is slightly less circular than that of Earth and Venus, which has the most circular orbit, it isn’t by much. We tend to refer to this as orbital eccentricity, which is the parameter of its orbit.
It’s also interesting to note that Jupiter has a much longer year than Earth, but it actually has shorter days – the shortest of any planet in our solar system. This is because Jupiter rotates at the fastest pace, meaning that a full rotation, and therefore day, is complete within just 10 hours. This is down to the way that Jupiter formed from the surrounding objects – as it consumed more and more materials, the planet started to rotate faster at the same time.
Plus, as well as this Jupiter doesn’t have seasons quite like other planets do, which is down to its slightly odd axial tilt (or lack of one in comparison to other planets) of only 3°. This means that although weather does change across the course of a year on Jupiter, it’s nowhere near as drastic as on other planets.
Jupiter actually travels a considerable distance to make it all the way around the Sun, but compared to the planets further out, the two gas giants Saturn and Jupiter don’t actually travel that far.
In conclusion, it’s pretty easy to see just why it takes Jupiter much longer to fulfil one full lap of the Sun in comparison to Earth. But it’s still worth bearing in mind that in comparison to all the planets further out than Jupiter are much more than this – it takes Saturn 10,000 days to complete one full orbit of the Sun!