J is for Just large enough, and Jupiter

My father painted, right on the ceiling in my room, the solar system!


When we were growing up, we lived on the first floor of a small two-story house, which was owned by my maternal grandmother; my paternal grandparents lived upstairs. On our floor was the master bedroom and kitchen in the back; the parlor, bathroom, and another bedroom in the middle; and the living room in the front.

I had two younger sisters, so they eventually slept in bunk beds in the second bedroom. To make a room for me, my father built a wall in the parlor that ran from the kitchen entrance about 2/3 of the way into the room, then another wall at a 90-degree angle from the first, leaving about an entrance to my room the size of a standard door, though I did not actually HAVE a door. Then he built a solid piece of wood – think one large shelf – held up by the two new walls and the existing wall to serve as the frame for my “bed”. On top of that was actually a foam mattress.

I did have room for my stuff under the bed, including a very low dresser. Around the corner was my bookcase, filled with my Golden Book Encyclopedias, my World Almanac, and other books.

In one of those books was a description of the solar system, and it gave relative sizes of the sun and the planets. The sun was a beach ball, Jupiter was a grapefruit; I forget the rest. So my father painted, right on the ceiling in my room, the solar system! This huge sun, and the various planets, including their known moons at the time. I specifically remember that according to the book: Jupiter had 12, Saturn 9, Neptune 5, Uranus and Mars 2 apiece, Earth and Pluto, 1 each.

And since the walls my father built didn’t go to the ceiling – there was a single ceiling light that illuminated the parlor, now essentially a hallway, and my room – anyone coming to visit us who came into the kitchen or bathroom was likely to see at least this massive star on the ceiling.

Incidentally, my father painted on the walls a lot. In my sisters’ room, there was a very good Tinker Bell and the head of Felix the Cat. In the living room, on one wall, was a stark snowy mountain scene. On the other was a marketplace in Europe done in the style, as I think back on it, of Monet.


Oh, yeah, Jupiter, named after the Roman god. It now has over 50 satellites; some may actually be asteroids, pulled in by the planet’s massive gravitational force. It appears that Jupiter has lost a stripe fairly recently, having something to do with dissipating gases. From a NASA Voyager recording, you can actually hear Jupiter. The planet 11 times the size of Earth was, on September 20, 2010, only 368 million miles away, as close as it will get for 12 years.

Finally,

Jupiter’s Two Largest Storms Nearly Collide, storms larger than the diameter of the planet Earth (Credit & Copyright: Travis Rector (U. Alaska), Chad Trujillo (Caltech), et al., Gemini Obs., AURA, NSF)

ABC Wednesday – Round 7