Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby's First Birthday

Today marks the first year anniversary of the discovery of Neptune, one year ago in Neptune years. It was discovered 165 years ago today, July 12th, 1846. In all that time since, Neptune has as of today completed one orbit around the sun. To get an idea just how long that is, if the day Neptune was discovered was somehow the actual start of a Neptune year which only now ended today, that year would have started three years before the Mexican American War.

Oddly in a sense it might have been on or close to the beginning of the Neptune solstice that it was discovered, as it was likely at or near the point of its closest approach to the sun.

As you can tell the planet is blue and I assume this was why it was named after Neptune the Roman Sea God, although I'm not sure if this is a coincidence. I find it hard to believe the planet's blue hue would show up to early astronomers, but maybe it did. However, though this inspired its name, its unlikely to contain much if any water. Neptune is more than likely a mix of methane and ammonia, like its fellow gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. The peaceful, beautiful blue color is just another element of the mystery and illusion surrounding the planet.

The picture above is of Neptune as seen from its largest moon, Triton.

Oh, one thing more. Neptune is also apparently undergoing the effects of Global Climate Change. LOL