Popular Astronomy

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Neptune

Neptune from Voyager

Neptune from Voyager 2  Image: NASA

 

 

Amazing fact!

For part of its 248-year journey around the Sun, Pluto actually comes inside Neptune’s orbit. This meant that when Pluto was still a planet, Pluto would become the eighth planet and Neptune the ninth! Now that Pluto is not a planet it makes things much simpler!

     Neptune is the eighth and last planet in the Solar System. It is an ice giant – a frozen gas giant – like Uranus. It looks a bit like Uranus too, though instead of a pale turquoise colour it is a rich blue, with white, wispy clouds of methane that race around the planet, and dark spots that are storms like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot that occasionally appear.
      Like Uranus, not a great deal is known about Neptune, with Voyager 2 its only, brief, visitor. It has 13 (unlucky?) moons, including the largest, Triton (not to be confused with Saturn’s moon Titan), which is the seventh largest moon in the Solar System. It is covered in nitrogen ice and ‘pink snow’, which is actually material deposited by fountains of nitrogen that burst out of the ground!

Neptune's Great Dark Spot

Image: NASA/JPL

Triton's puzzling surface

Image: NASA/JPL

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