Neptune’s Lap

Wave the checkered flag for the solar system’s eighth planet. Since its 1846 discovery by a combination of mathematics and international cooperation, Neptune has completed one orbit of the sun, as of yesterday.

Two informative posts are up at Universe Today mark the occasion. One gives a luscious Voyager 2 view of the planet, plus a map so you can find it in the constellation of Aquarius. The Hubble Space Telescope turned its viewing eyes to the planet last month.

At magnitude 8, Neptune is about as bright as Saturn’s moon Titan. That’s good enough for a good pair of binoculars. Any decent telescope will be adequate. But alas, our backyard magnifying mechanisms aren’t good enough to resolve a disk with dark and light storms. Think of yourself as doing well by noting the blue color reflected away by methane (natural gas) in the Neptunian atmosphere.

One of my favorite images is Ted Stryk’s reprocessing of four Voyager shots that show the small moon Despina’s shadow on the planet.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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