Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun and is the most distant planet from the Sun. This gas giant planet may have formed much closer to the Sun in early solar system history before migrating to its present position.
Fast Facts about Neptune
1. The Berlin observatory, following Le Verrier’s calculations giving the possible position of this object, searched for Neptune and found the planet. They named it Neptune after the Roman God of the Sea.
2. Neptune was not known to the ancients, it is not visible to the naked eye and was first observed in 1846. Its position was determined using mathematical predictions. Neptune can only be seen with the use of a large telescope.
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3. Neptune is a large planet, nearly four times the size of Earth but it is the smallest of the gas giants (There are four gas giants in our Solar System – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). Neptune is the fourth largest planet in the Solar System.
4. How much would you weigh on Neptune? If you weigh 70 pounds (32 kg) on the Earth, you would weigh 78.5 pounds (36 kg) on Neptune.
5. Storms have been spotted swirling around its surface and freezing winds that blow about ten times faster than hurricanes on Earth make it the windiest planet.
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6. Neptune’s moon, Triton, is slowly getting closer to Neptune. Eventually, it will get so close that it may get torn apart by Neptune’s gravity and possibly form rings more spectacular than Saturn’s.
7. Neptune has dark spots similar to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. These are areas of high atmospheric pressure which force clouds of methane gas high up into the atmosphere, appearing like cirrus (thin, wispy) clouds on Earth. However, these spots disappear and reappear on different parts of the planet, unlike Jupiter’s spot.
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8. Since its discovery in 1846, Neptune has completed only one full orbit of the Sun. In fact, it takes about 165 years for the planet to go around the Sun.
9. The blue color of the planet is due to the absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere.
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10. Neptune is 30.1 Astronomical Units (30.1 AU) from the Sun, a staggering 2793 million miles (4495 million kilometres) from the Sun, and 2700 million miles from the Earth. Our Earth is only 1 Astronomical Unit (1 AU) from the sun!