Halfway through the solar system in the far reaches of space lies a monster of a planet named Jupiter. "Its name is derived from the Greek king of the Gods, the ruler of Olympus, and the patron of the Roman State (1)." Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky and has been known since prehistoric times. More recently since the invention of the telescope by Galileo, have humans been able to study Jupiter with better vision. In 1664 one such observer noticed a mysterious occurrence on the planet, the Great Red Spot.
"Although having been seen from the very early days of the telescope, it was not well studied until 1878 (2)." To understand the Great Red Spot one must first realize the atmospheric conditions of Jupiter itself. Jupiter is very large, so large in fact that the atmospheric pressure generated by Jupiter's large mass is 318 times that of Earth. Combined with the fact that 75% of Jupiter's mass is gas, it is quite logical that the planet will experience more than its fair share of storms. "Storms in Jupiter are more violent than any of the storms we've ever experienced here on Earth. They are usually accompanied by electrical discharges. The lightning on Earth in comparison would seem harmless (3)." .
Scientists who have recently studied Jupiter have concluded that the Great Red Spot is a giant storm. Using data gathered through scientific observations and from spacecraft visitation, it is estimated that the Great red Spot is an oval shaped storm about 12,000 by 25,000 km. This is about twice the size of Earth. It is located on Jupiter's south tropical zone at about 22 degrees south latitude. Since Jupiter rotates at varying speeds (faster at the equator, slower at the poles) the Great Red Spot's longitude is not stable. It is also the largest known storm in the entire solar system. The vast storm spins like a cyclone. "Unlike a low pressure hurricane in the Caribbean Sea, however, the Red Spot rotates in a counterclockwise direction in the southern hemisphere, showing that it is a high pressure system.