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.


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

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

52 thoughts on “J is for Just large enough, and Jupiter”

  1. Jupiter in Vedic Astrology represents teacher of the gods and in Sanskrit it is called Brahaspati or Guru. Interesting read as usual from you. Have a great week!!

  2. Good sir! You write:
    “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 a piece, Earth and Pluto, 1 each.”
    However, Charon, the first of Pluto’s three moons, was not discovered until 1978! So if your childhood book noted that Pluto had a moon, your age is around… 36?!? I think NOT!!

  3. The wall paintings sound beautiful. I have a sun painted around the light fixture in my living room from the tennant before me 🙂
    Those space sounds always creep me out a bit, but they are very cool. I also love listening to aurora sounds

  4. Whew! A lot of fascinating information about Jupiter. But the best is how your father made a special room just for you, making it even more special by painting on the ceiling. From some of your other posts, I can tell he was a wonderful man! Have a great week, Roger! 😀

  5. Fascinating. Your Dad was resourceful and made a wonderful “little” place for you. I admire that. A great way to bring in all the J words. I always enjoy visiting your blog.

  6. What a lovely thing to have on your ceiling, plus a room of your own, and of course as a future librarian, with books.
    The gas giants are fascinating, like the choice of pictures.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful house. Thanks to an article in our local newspaper I can add that Jupiter passed 368 million miles from Earth last night, the closest it’s been since 1963. In our skies, (I’m not sure if this applies to all countries of the world. I don’t think it does.)at the moment, Jupiter is the biggest and brightest light in the sky other than the moon. I wanted to go out and take a look, but our fabled ‘night and morning low cloud’ that is supposed to be around only in May and June is still with us. Coldest summer on record!

  8. Oh my gosh, I would have loved your house! And ceiling and… What fun that must have been. Jupiter is probably my favorite planet! Love your post!

  9. Your father sure was good at making the best use of what was available. My father was much the same.
    Thanks for all the interesting facts about Jupiter, collecting satellites and losing stripes. I had no idea.

    Alberta, Canada

  10. Enjoyed the little “bunny trail” you went down on your way to telling about Jupiter! Your dad sounds like he was quite the artist. What was lacking in a “proper” room was more than made up for in creativity! Oh yeah, Jupiter is an awesome planet!

  11. Pingback: J is for Jack
  12. I absolutely love that your Dad painted on the walls of your home. I wish more people felt that freedom. How special you home must have been, and your bedroom, how marvelous to see the solar system as you went to sleep.

    What a wonderful post for “J”.

  13. I have always been fascinated with astronomy and astrology and never knew about all the satellites! Thank you Rog for another post where I learn something as well as enjoy knowing more about you 🙂

  14. It is quite a multipurpose point! Actually wanna show gratitude for that information you have divided. Just keep on creating this form of content. I most certainly will be your faithful subscriber. Thanks once again.

  15. Hi Roger,

    I share a love of astronomy. On our dream vacation there was a telescope in the house we rented! That is a gorgeous shot of red Jupiter! Wonderful info- leaves me wishing I owned a telescope. As far as growing up, I was fascinated that your dad was so thoughtful as to make a private room for you in what others might have considered too small a space. I so enjoy peaks into bloggers’ lives. As an artist, I smiled that he painted on the walls! Hooray!

  16. Wow! That’s all very interesting Roger! Too much to take it all in at one time! Your dad must have been an artist! And he cared so much about his children to take the trouble to create beautiful rooms for you all.

  17. My hubby Jon is absolutely fascintaed by the solar system and would have loved what your dad did for you. Sadly his father never really understood Jon and years later the memories he holds are not positive, loving ones like yours Roger. What precious, wonderful moments to remember and treasure.

    Thanks so much for this, and for being such a supportive member of the ABC Team, much appreciated.


  18. I can imagine how it must have looked lying there in your bed. As if daylight was about to come (if the lights were on in your parlour). It sounds great by any means.

  19. You have no idea how broadly I smiled when I read about your room with your treasured Golden Book Encyclopedias and World Almanac. That was no surprise at all. I know that a lead-in and was peripheral to Jupiter, but just the visual of you as a little kid amazed by the solar system and yearning for more information struck me as so you.

  20. Roger, you describe your “room” so well. I can imagine myself stretched out on the foam and wandering the universe in my imagination. Thanks to you and your father for a marvelous post for J-day!
    HelenMac, ABC team
    P.S. thank you for your comment on Jumping for Joy.

  21. Jupiter is very bright in the sky at present as you would expect, given its *cough* proximity to Earth 😉
    We lived in a flat where our parents divided rooms to provide more flexibility. It was fun!

  22. How very nice of your father ! If he would be 16 today he probably would do graffitis on all walls, lol ! (nice once of course)

  23. It is a planet that photographs well, I think! And, always intriguing. And staggering as to its size and characteristics! Great informative post as always!

  24. People like your dad are the best – golden hands. Making do in such a grand way is the best way to grow up. I remember one Christmas, the Christmas trees were all sold out before we had a chance to buy one (this was in former Yugoslavia). We looked all thru the small city we lived in, with no luck. So my dad got a steel rod, put it in a flower pot, and we used fir tree branches that we collected around town and made a darling little tree. We decorated it and I was very happy about it. I left to do something in the afternoon with my friends, and when I returned, the tree was replaced by a bigger, regular tree. But I always think of that tree that we made together as the best tree we ever had.

  25. Excellent post. Haha..i wish i have a dad like your dad.

    Thanks for the visit and comment.

    Happy ABC Wednesday.

  26. Wow. You know, when I started listening to the recording of Jupiter a fragment of a hymn came to mind and I had to go find out what it was. It was one I had sung as a very young teenager at our local Anglican church when I was in the choir. I learned a lot of new hymns there, some of them majestic and awesome, some (like ‘Judge Eternal’) rather grim to young ears. Anyway – here’s the first verse of the one I was thinking of, listening to Jupiter:

    “Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round
    Of circling planets singing on their way,
    Guide of the nation from the night profound
    Into the glory of the perfect day;
    Rule in our hearts, that we may ever be
    Guided and strengthened and upheld by thee”

    You can see why it struck me. Written by John Chadwick in 1864, he could not possibly have known that the planets do indeed sing!

    By the way, did you listen to planet Earth, too?

  27. that’s a good one…and thanks for sharing some infos about jupiter….:)

    great to be here…thanks for dropping by!

  28. Dear Roger,
    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my J-post.
    You post is wonderful!
    Here you have balanced childhood memories of your family’s living space with the planet Jupiter, the solar system and outer space! No one is quite like you Rog! Lovely post.
    I like your Dad. Bless his memory, if he is no longer with us.
    Best wishes,

    Anna’s J-word (abc-Wed rd-7)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.