Facts about Neptune
Neptune is one seriously large planet that has some really extreme weather conditions. It is further away from the Sun than any other planet in our Solar System.
Neptune is a large planet, nearly four times the size of Earth. Wow, that’s pretty big!
- Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun.
- Neptune is the third largest planet in the Solar System, but is much smaller than the real giants, Jupiter and Saturn. It’s just a little bit bigger than Uranus.
- Neptune has a diameter of 47,150km. When you compare it to Earth, it’s still pretty large, as Earth’s diameter is 12,760km.
Neptune is one of the four ‘gas giants’ like Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus that are only made of gas. Neptune is big old ball of hydrogen and helium. At least you could get that squeaky voice like you get from helium balloons!
- It takes Neptune 165 Earth years to orbit the Sun. That’s quite a lot of Earth years don’t you think?
- Neptune spins slightly faster on its axis than the Earth and takes just over 19 hours to turn right round.
- You’ve probably heard of loads of planets that have really extreme, and not such pleasant weather. Well Neptune wins the prize for the most violent weather in our Solar System.
Storms have been spotted swirling around its surface. Freezing winds have also been seen that blow about ten times faster than hurricanes on Earth! Well a trip here is certainly a big no-no! It is by far the windiest planet!
- Neptune is a large, water planet with a blue hydrogen-methane atmosphere.
- It’s also covered by thin wispy white clouds which stretch right around the whole planet.
- Neptune can’t be seen without a large telescope and was first seen in 1846 from the observatory in Berlin by Johann Galle and Heinrich D’Arrest.
- So this is a bit confusing! Apparently, Neptune had actually been ‘discovered’ a year earlier, in 1845. So wonder which one is correct?
- The Berlin observatory, after following some weird and wonderful calculations showed them where the possible position of Neptune was and they found the planet.
- It was named Neptune after the Roman God of the Sea.
In 2011 Neptune completed its first orbit around the Sun after its discovery 165 years before.
- Like all the other planets, Neptune turns on its own axis as it is orbiting the sun. Think of it like this. You’re walking round a large pond but you’re turning round and round as you go. Now that must be a strange feeling!
- The Earth is 150 million kilometres from the Sun. So that’s pretty far right? But, Neptune on the other hand is so, so, so far away from the Sun that it’s difficult to even begin to imagine the distance! Wow.
- In the same year that Neptune was first seen, its first moon was also spotted through that large telescope. It was named Triton.
Interesting Facts about Uranus
- Uranus was the ancient Greek God of the heavens whose sons were the Giants and Titans.
- Uranus is the smallest of the four ‘giant’ planets, but is still quite a bit larger than the Earth. It has a diameter of 47,150km. The Earth’s diameter is 12,760 kilometres. That’s still a big difference!
- Wow, seriously…Uranus is 2,869 million kilometres from the Sun.
Now Triton is no ordinary moon and is rather unusual. Why is this? Well it actually orbits it’s away around Neptune in the opposite direction of Neptune’s own rotation on its axis. All the other moons in the Solar System follow their planets around like a loyal friend. Think about that pond again, and try turning on your own axis, but this time take a friend with you. If you’re turning clockwise, have them go round you anticlockwise, be careful, you could get dizzy and fall down!
Triton is about the same size as our own moon. In 1949 a smaller moon, called Nereid, was discovered by telescope. Another six moons were discovered in the 1980s by the Voyager spacecraft. All these moons are between Triton and Neptune.
So Neptune has 13 moons in total. As Neptune was the God of the Sea, all the moons are named after less important ancient Greek sea gods, like Triton, or sea nymphs, like Nereid.
When Voyager 2 visited Neptune they could see a massive storm which was called the ‘Great Dark Spot’ because it looks like a big dark oval shape. No one knows how long the storm has been going on or if it even still exists. When the Hubble Space Telescope sent pictures back there was no sign of the Great Dark spot but there were two others, which eventually faded away.
Neptune also has rings, wow! There are six of them which circle the planet, and it is believed that they are fairly new.
So now you know all about this stunner of a planet, which shows off its gorgeous colours! Go on, and share all the new info you know!