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On the 1st of September the distance between Gallia and Jupiter was
precisely the same as the mean distance between the earth and the sun;
on the 16th, the distance was further reduced to 26,000,000 leagues.
The planet began to assume enormous dimensions, and it almost seemed
as if the comet had already been deflected from its elliptical orbit,
and was rushing on in a straight line towards the overwhelming luminary.
The more they contemplated the character of this gigantic planet,
the more they became impressed with the likelihood of a serious
perturbation in their own course. The diameter of Jupiter is
85,390 miles, nearly eleven times as great as that of the earth;
his volume is 1,387 times, and his mass 300 times greater;
and although the mean density is only about a quarter of that
of the earth, and only a third of that of water (whence it has
been supposed that the superficies of Jupiter is liquid), yet his
other proportions were large enough to warrant the apprehension
that important disturbances might result from his proximity.
"I forget my astronomy, lieutenant," said Servadac. "Tell me
all you can about this formidable neighbor."
The lieutenant having refreshed his memory by reference to
Flammarion's Recits de l'Infini, of which he had a Russian translation,
and some other books, proceeded to recapitulate that Jupiter accomplishes
his revolution round the sun in 4,332 days 14 hours and 2 minutes;
that he travels at the rate of 467 miles a minute along an orbit
measuring 2,976 millions of miles; and that his rotation on his axis
occupies only 9 hours and 55 minutes.
"His days, then, are shorter than ours?" interrupted the captain.
