Jupiter Huge and majestic Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, is an apt celestial metaphor for the king of gods. Over 300 times more massive than Earth, Jupiter proceeds at a stately pace around the Sun, circling it once every twelve years. Mammoth though it is, the planet is little more than a hot-air balloon. Composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, Jupiter is thought to have no solid surface. Rather, it is made up of layers of dense gas that give way toward the planet's core to liquid metals that finally condense into a tiny center of rock and ice. The horizontal bands of light and dark that stripe Jupiter are clouds in its atmosphere in one place the bands are disrupted by a startling feature called the Great Red Spot, thought to be a massive storm that has lasted for hundred of years.

Jupiter generates more radiation on its own than it receives from the Sun and thus forms the center of a miniature solar system of sixteen moons. A few of the satellites may be former planets captured by their giant neighbor's immense gravitational pull.

Lordly Jupiter was named after the Roman king of the gods, known as Zeus in the Greek pantheon. Zeus was ruler of Mount Olympus, the home of the gods. Legend has it that he came to power by overthrowing his tyrannical Titan father Cronus, an act sometimes interpreted as the triumph of human reason over animal instinct. Greek images show Zeus as a bearded man in a sky blue cloak, sometimes astride an eagle. The god holds thunderbolts emblematic of his power.

Although he existed on he most lofty spiritual plane, Zeus also had his carnal side. He was married to his sister Hera, the Romans' Juno; but he was a philanderer of Olympian appetite and stamina, cavorting with numerous divinities and mortals of both sexes. Even so, the Greeks regarded him as guardian of the social order, particularly the supremacy of men over women. The Roman Jupiter was, if anything, more revered than his Greek predecessor. He was the lord of day and - like Zeus - the lord of lightning bolts, which were his direct messages to humanity. And Jupiter smoothly evolved from ancient myth into his astrological role, standing for masculine authority. He is the wise man, brightening the world with meaning rather than with lightning.

Jupiter is said to inspire us to reach beyond our immediate circumstances, spiritually and materially. The planet is therefore associated with religion and philosophy, benevolence, compassion, justice, law, and honesty, as well as wealth and social status. People whose horoscopes feature Jupiter prominently are supposedly established and respectable. but as conscientious individuals, they will flout conventions in the name of higher principles. They are said to operate on so grand a scale that they may run to extravagance if unchecked. Moreover, they have a tendency to overgeneralize, to throw around broad concepts without examining their fine print. This can make them blindly - and dangerously - optimistic.

Pastors, philosophers, scientists, doctors, philanthropists, judges, lawyers, teachers and chief executives are believed to be influenced by Jupiter. The planet supposedly conveys an aristocratic demeanor and facility with languages, traits appropriate to superb diplomats.

Jupiter Glyph Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces and oversees the circulation of the blood. The glyph that represents him, a half circle rising over a cross, is symbolic of the mind's triumph over matter.