Neptune is the furthest planet from the Sun in our Solar System. It was named after the Roman god of the sea. Neptune has been visited by only one spacecraft, Voyager 2, which flew by the planet on 25 August 1989. Let’s find out some more interesting facts about the planet Neptune.
Interesting facts about Neptune
- Traces of methane in the outermost regions of the planet help give Neptune a distinctive blue color.
- Galileo first observed Neptune on 28 December 1612 but mistook the planet for a star. Therefore, he is not credited with the discovery of the planet.
- Since 2006, when Pluto was re-classified as a “dwarf planet”, Neptune has been considered the last planet in the Solar System. Due to its distance from the Sun it is estimated that the atmosphere of the planet is one of the coldest places in the Solar System.
- Neptune weighs 17 times as much as the Earth and has over 15 times the surface area. It is the third largest planet in the solar system by mass and third largest by diameter.
- Neptune’s atmosphere is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium.
- Saturn’s rings may be more famous but Neptune also has a planetary ring structure. These rings are made up of ice particles coated with silicates or carbon-based materials.
- Neptune orbits the Sun every 164.79 Earth years.
- Neptune has 13 known moons. The largest of these moons is Triton which was discovered just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune.
- Neptune is never visible to the naked eye. If you look through a telescope or strong binoculars you will see Neptune as a small blue disc. It looks similar to the planet Uranus.
- Many storms occur on Neptune, with wind speeds reaching 600 m/s.
- Neptune has a similar surface temperature to Uranus despite the fact that it is farther away from the Sun and gets only 40% as much sunlight as Uranus.
- Neptune’s core is composed mostly of iron, nickel and silicates.
- Neptune’s weather goes through different ‘seasons’, very similar to the Earth. However, each season on Neptune lasts for 40 years.