Another Neptune Animation
Click on the image to see a larger version.
I've been collecting images of Neptune day after day. I missed a few days due to bad weather, but I've gotten nine frames so far. I think it turned out pretty nice. You can see the largest of Neptune's 14 moons, Triton, orbiting the outermost planet in our solar system. Neptune is over 2 billion miles away from Earth, on average. That distance is just about impossible to imagine and it's amazing that we have instruments that can see across that space to see Neptune and Triton.
Neptune is so far from the sun that it takes nearly 165 Earth years to complete an orbit! Neptune was discovered using math. Think about that. Math. No one could see it in 1846, but the orbits of the other outer planets suggested that another large object was out there.
We now know that Neptune is an ice giant with six rings and winds 3 times faster than Jupiter's and 9 times faster than on Earth. It's blue color is due to high levels of methane in the outer atmosphere. Methane alone can't account for the vividness of the blue, however, so there is an unknown something adding to the color. So many mysteries!
Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to visit this ice giant, and that was in 1989. I think it's time to go back for another look, don't you?