~The Smallest Jovian Planet~


The beautiful deep blue color makes Neptune a gorgeous site to see. The beautiful blue is mainly a result of absorption of red by methane in the atmosphere, BUT there are other unidentified elements in the chromosphere, which gives the clouds they're delightfully deep blue color!
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Neptune's Discovery

A Story of Four Men and a Planet

Neptune's discovery is one of the most complicated discoveries of all of our known planets in the the solar system. It was the first planet that was being searched for when it was discovered. It also happened to be found by three people at around the same time. Please read below for more information on Neptune's discovery.

A Student- John Couch Adams

A 23-year-old mathematics student at Cambridge University in England, John Couch Adams, noticed a strange force was affecting the orbit of Neptune, and he was determined to find out what it was. On July 3, 1841 he wrote in his journal; "Formed a design in the beginning of this week of investigating, as soon as possible after taking my degree, the irregularities in the motion of Uranus... in order to find out whether they may be attributed to the action of an undiscovered planet beyond it." As soon as Adams got his degree in 1843, he began calculating the location of the possible planet. In September 1845, Adams believed he had finally achieved his goal. However, he did not publish the results, but instead sent the information to the director of the Cambridge Observatory, James Challis. Challis believed they were valid so sent them to Sir George Airy at England's Royal Observatory for further investigation.

A British Astronomer- Sir George Airy

Though Challis believed that Adams claims were true, Airy did not. He made no attempts to investigate the location, so during September and October 1845, Adams tried to visit Airy three times. But Adams had no appointment , so Airy was not available at two of the appointments. On the third visit, no one told Airy that Adams was there, and Adams, who was very shy, did not attempt to visit once more. Finally, when Airy wrote to Adams asking for more information, Adams did not answer the letter for a whole year! One of Adam's associates said that he "acted like a bashful boy rather than a man who had made a discovery."

A French Astronomer- Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier

At about the same time, a famous astronomer, named Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier was also searching for a planet that effected the orbit of Uranus. In June 1846, he found the location that he was looking for and published his work. He then sent his calculations to the French Academy, then Johann Gottfried Galle, a German man working as an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Berlin.

Neptune's Most Important Facts

The Mass, Density, and Other Important Features of Neptune

Neptune is almost 4 times the size of Earth, with a diameter of 49,528 km. (30,775 mi.) The density of Neptune is 1.0247e26 kg. (for comparison purposes, the density of water is 1,000.00) The mass of Neptune is 102.4E24 kg. (Earth's mass is 17.15 kg.) Neptune is made of hydrogen, helium, and water with other volatile components and a rocky material. Neptune has no solid surface that we know of.


Here is one misconception about Neptune's temperature: Neptune is not the coldest planet, Uranus is! The reason Neptune is so warm is because it has an internal heat source (like Jupiter and Saturn!) Neptune radiates more than twice as much heat as it recieves from the sun! But still make sure to bundle up!

Neptune's Atmosphere

Neptune's atmosphere is made mainly of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia, from the knowledge that scientists can gather today, but they may find more accurate information in as little as a few years, so be sure to keep yourself updated.

The Moons of Neptune

Neptune has eight unique moons, discovered between 1846 and 1989. In the chart below, the moons are sorted by distance from Neptune. The picture to the right is of Triton's surface.

Name: Discoverer: Diameter: Distance from Neptune: Orbit


Naiad: Voyager 2, 1989: 60 km/37mi: 48,000km/29,800mi: 0.30

Thalassa: Voyager 2, 1989: 80km/50mi: 50,000km/31,100mi: 0.31

Despina: Voyager 2, 1989: 150m/93mi: 52,500km/32,600mi: 0.33

Galatea: Voyager 2, 1989: 160km/99mi: 62,000km/38,500mi: 0.42

Larissa: Voyager 2, 1989: 190km/118mi: 73,600km/45,700mi: 0.55

Proteus: Voyager 2, 1989 420km/261mi 117,600km/73,100mi 1.12

Triton: Lassell, 1846: 2,700km/1,678mi: 354,800km/220,500mi: 5.88

Nereid: Kuiper, 1949: 340km/211mi: 5,513,400km/3,426,00mi: 365.21

Special Attractions and the Great Dark Spot

Other Interesting Features

If you look with a telescope you can see Neptune in the distance. There is also a dark spot on the surface of Neptune, that moves around. Neptune has been visited by one spacecraft: Voyager 2 on August 25 1989, most information that we get from Neptune comes from that single encounter.
Because Pluto's orbit is so eccentric, it sometimes crosses the orbit of Neptune making it the furthest planet from the sun. Neptune has an eternal heat source - it radiates more than twice as much energy as it receives from the sun. One of the rings on Neptune appears to have a twisted structure. Neptune also has 13 known moons close to the planet.

Rings...yes, rings!!!

Some special attractions Neptune offers are its rings! These rings have names which are (in order) :Adam, which contains 3 arcs named Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Next is an un-named ring co-orbitable with Galatea. Then, Leverrier (whose outer parts are named Lassell and Arago) Finaly, the wide but not-so bright, Galle. Make sure while you are enjoying Neptune you try and look for all the rings- a great family activity!

The Great Dark Spot

The Voyager 2, a one ton space probe, was nearing the end of its journey. It had successfully navigated its way through the outer planets in our solar system, and was approaching the final planet, (as of today) Neptune. As Voyager 2 grew closer, its amazing cameras picked up an unexpected sight. A large, dark blue spot came into view in the southern hemisphere of the large blue planet. Scientists soon nicknamed it "The Great Dark Spot," for its coloring and size. People soon began comparing it with Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Jupiter's spot is about the size of the Earth, and Jupiter's is half that size. The Great Dark Spot zooms around Neptune at 300 meters per second (700 mph) several times a day!

However, in 1994, to scientists dismay, the Hubble Space Telescope showed Neptune clearly... with no spot! The scientists' believed that the spot had dissipated, or had possibly been masked by other elements of the blue planet's surface. But within the next few months, the Hubble Space Telescope showed another spot that had appeared in the northern hemisphere. That interestIng situation proved that Neptune's atmosphere changes rapidly, perhaps because of the temperature, or the special clouds.

Distance from the Sun and Uranus Confusion

Neptune in Relation to the Sun

Neptune is the eighth and outermost planet and is estimated to be 30.06 AU (4.497 billion km./2.794 billion mi.) from the Sun. However, being the farthest from the Sun doesn't make it the coldest planet. The components of Neptune's atmosphere (see above) can trap heat and greenhouse gases more efficiently than other planets closer to the Sun, such as Uranus.

Neptune and Uranus

Many people confuse Neptune and Uranus, mostly because Uranus' orbit is effected by Neptune's magnetic field. Neptune is slightly smaller than Uranus but more massive. (Neptune's density is about 25% higher than that of Uranus.) Also, Uranus is the 7th planet, and Neptune is the 8th. Make sure to keep those facts in mind while planning a trip to either of the planets. The picture to the right shows Uranus (left) and Neptune.(right)

Other Things You Might Want to Know


Neptune turned 1 year old, 2 yrs ago. We will never be able to see the orbit again.

BUT, Neptune is fun for all ages!!!!!!