Sitting on the eighth spot from Sun, Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system. The planet displays a vivid blue tint and is known as an ice-giant. The planet has a very interesting history and of course, possesses some very interesting characteristics that will leave us in awe. So, let us not waste more time weaving a prelude and dive straight into a world of 30 interesting Neptune facts. You may know some of them but we are pretty sure that you will find some facts pretty new and interesting.
Interesting Neptune Facts: 1-10
1. Neptune is the first planet in our entire solar system whose existence has been predicted by mathematical calculations before scientists actually spotted it using a telescope.
3. It was Bouvard’s suggestion that was used as a basis of mathematical calculations by Johann Galle – a German astronomer – to help scientists spot Neptune using a telescope.
4. Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846.
5. Neptune gets its name from Roman and Greek mythology. Neptune is actually the name of the Roman god of sea.
6. The planet Neptune is covered by clouds and emanates a blue tint. Scientists have identified two reasons for this blue color. First, there is an unidentified compound that makes the planet appear blue and second, the planet’s atmosphere that is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium also contains methane which is known for absorbing red light.
7. Photographs of Neptune show that just beneath the planet’s atmosphere is thick layer of fluid mixture consisting of methane ices, ammonia and water. This is precisely why the planet is often dubbed as ice-giant.
8. Scientists estimate that the planet has a mass 17 times greater than the mass of Earth. They also estimate that the overall volume of Neptune is 58 times that of our home orb.
9. Scientists have reached a conclusion that the total mass of the rocky core of Neptune is same as the total mass of our home planet.
10. The weirdest fact about Neptune is that despite its great distance from Earth and despite the fact that the planet fails to get enough sunlight that can keep the planet warm and drive its atmosphere, the winds on the planet can reach a top speed of 1,500 miles an hour or 2,400 kilometers an hour. Neptune holds the record of having fastest wind speed in our entire solar system.
Interesting Neptune Facts: 11-20
11. In 1989, Voyager 2 tracked a large dark storm on the southern hemisphere of Neptune. This storm was assocaited with high speed winds on the planet.
12. This great storm was named as ‘Great Dark Spot’. The Great Dark Spot had a counterclockwise spin and was just big enough to engulf entire Earth.
13. The Great Dark Spot actually had a speed of 1,200 kilometers an hour or 750 miles an hour and moved towards the west.
14. After the initial discovery of the Great Dark Spot in 1989, Hubble Space Telescope tried to find the great storm but by the time this attempt was made, the storm had disappeared. In last decade, two more Great Dark Spots were identified by Hubble Space Telescope.
15. The magnetic field of the planet is 27 times greater than that of Earth. Compared with the poles (rotation axis) of Neptune, its magnetic poles are tipped by around 47 degrees. This simply means that every time the planet completes one rotation, the magnetic field swings wildly.
16. 80% of Neptune’s atmosphere (considered by volume) is made of hydrogen. Helium takes up 19% and another 1.5 percent is taken up by methane. Scientists say that Neptune is the densest gaseous planet in entire solar system.
17. As far as the composition (considered by mass) of the planet is concerned, scientists think that 60-70% of the planet is ice, 25% is rock and 5-15% is taken up by hydrogen and helium.
18. Scientists believe that the mantle is composed of methane ices, ammonia and water while the core of Neptune is made of magnesium silicate and iron.
19. The planet has an oval-shaped elliptical orbit. Because of this orbital shape, the average distance the planet maintains from Sun is 4.5 billion kilometers or 2.8 billion miles. This is around 30 times the distance of Earth from Sun. No wonder, the planet is not visible to naked eyes.
20. The planet completes one revolution around the Sun in about 165 Earth years. Since its discovery in 1846, the planet completed one revolution in 2011.
Interesting Neptune Facts: 21-30
21. The average distance maintained by Neptune from Sun is 4,498,252,900 km or 2,795,084,800 miles, which is 30.069 times the distance of Earth from Sun.
22. The closest the planet gets to the Sun (known as Perihelion) is 4,459,630,000 km or 2,771,087,000 miles. Compared to Earth, the Perihelion is 29.820 times greater.
23. The farthest the planet gets away from Sun (known as Aphelion) is 4,536,870,000 km or 2,819,080,000 miles. Compared to Earth, the Aphelion is 30.326 times greater.
24. The surface temperature of the planet is -201 degrees Celsius.
25. The overall mass of the planet is 102,410,000,000,000,000 billion kg (which is around 17.15 times the overall mass of Earth).
26. The equatorial and polar diameters of the planet are 49,528 km and 48,682 km respectively. The equatorial circumference of the planet is 155,600 km.
27. Neptune has 5 rings but they are not easily visible. These rings are not at all uniform and consist of arcs. Arcs are nothing but thick and bright dust clumps. Scientists believe that these rings are relatively young and that they are not very stable. In 2005 scientists announced (based on their observations from Earth) that the rings dwindle away pretty rapidly compared to what was being thought initially.
28. Neptune has 13 known moons (14 actually because one of the long lost moons of Neptune by the name Naiad was recently observed for the first time in 20 years).
29. The moons are named after lesser nymphs and sea gods of Greek Mythology. The largest of all moons of Neptune is Triton. Interestingly enough, the actual credit for the discovery of Triton goes to beer (the one that we drink). William Lassell, an amateur astronomer made a fortune when he was a brewer and used the money to fund a telescope that he used to discover Triton in 1846 (the very same year when the planet itself was discovered).
30. Triton is pretty unique in the sense that in entire solar system, it is THE ONLY large moon which revolves around the planet in the direction opposite to the direction of rotation of the planet. This weird direction of revolution (known as retrograde orbit) led the scientists to believe that Triton was a dwarf planet but Neptune captured it as a moon. Triton is extremely cold with its surface temperature reaching as low as -235 degrees Celsius or -391 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only spacecraft to have ever visited Neptune is Voyager 2 of NASA. The spacecraft visited the planet in 1989 on August 25 and discovered 6 moons and the rings of the planet. Another 5 moons were discovered in 2003 using ground telescopes.