Jupiter has 80 known moons, with more still being discovered by astronomers and amateur sky-watchers alike. That’s second only to Saturn’s 83 moons in our Solar System. The below video does a cool size comparison of the many moons of Jupiter and it is quite epic. It starts out with a handful of the smallest moons, each just about one kilometer (about 0.6 miles) in diameter. Then comes Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest in the Solar System. It is bigger than the planet Mercury and nearly half the diameter of Earth. The graphic quickly has to zoom out from New York City to instead show the moons scaled across the United States and eventually the entire planet.
Most of Jupiter’s moons aren’t spherical like our Moon. At first, the visualization ends up looking like a bunch of enormous potatoes standing on end across New York. But then comes Europa and Io, which are close to the same size as our Moon. Last up are Callisto and Ganymede, with a scale so large you can no longer make out the tiny spud-like moons from the beginning of the video.
This is only the latest in a series of astronomical size comparisons from the MetaBallStudios YouTube channel. Other examples include asteroid sizes and the devastation from asteroid impacts, as well as moon sizes throughout our Solar System. There also many more size comparisons from both real life and science fiction, all of which escalate quickly from relatable to unimaginable. The channel’s specialty is helping us all understand how tiny we are and just how wildly out of hand both imagination and science can get.
While we’re talking about Jupiter, it’s fun to remember that scientists named most of the planet’s moons after the god Jupiter’s lovers in Roman mythology. And then in 2011, NASA sent a spacecraft called Juno (a.k.a. Jupiter’s wife) to check up on them and take a bunch of photos.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.