Category Archives: Neptune

New Global Map of Triton Shows Neptune’s Moon Like Never Before

Neptune's moon Triton as seen by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in August 1989 (Screenshot; NASA/JPL-Caltech/LPI)

Neptune’s moon Triton as seen by NASA’s Voyager 2 in August 1989 (Screenshot; NASA/JPL-Caltech/LPI)

This Monday will mark the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s visit to Neptune, its historic close approach to the distant ice giant having been made back on Aug. 25, 1989. To mark the occasion, the Lunar and Planetary Institute has released a newly-restored, high-resolution map of Triton, Neptune’s largest moon and the last solid body to be visited by Voyager.

In addition to commemorating Voyager 2’s visit, the new map of Triton is also a sort of “teaser” to how we might expect to see Pluto and its moon Charon when they’re visited in July 2015 by New Horizons – which, by the way, will coincidentally be crossing the orbit of Neptune on Monday, Aug. 25.

The annotated version of the full planetary map, created by LPI’s Dr. Paul Schenk from Voyager 2 images, can be seen below:
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A New Moon for Neptune!

S2004/N1 is the latest moon to be discovered around distant Neptune

S/2004 N 1 is the latest moon to be discovered around distant Neptune

Big, blue, and blustery, distant Neptune is the outermost “real” planet in our solar system — a frigid gas giant nearly 3 billion miles from Earth orbiting the Sun with a handful of faint ring segments and a retinue of 13 moons… um, on second thought, better make that 14.

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A Backwards Moon

Voyager 2 mosaic of Neptune's largest moon Triton

At 1,680 miles across, the frigid and wrinkled Triton is distant Neptune’s largest moon. It orbits the planet backwards – that is, in the opposite direction that Neptune rotates – and is the only moon one of only two moons in our solar system to do so. This leads many astronomers to believe that Triton is a captured Kuiper Belt Object that fell into orbit around Neptune at some point in our solar system’s nearly 4.7-billion-year history.

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A New Look at Neptune

Ok, ok… it’s not “new” (it’s from a HubbleNews article released in 2005) but since I just came across it myself, it’s new to me! So maybe it’s new to you too. 🙂

The video above was created from images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing distant Neptune (we’re talking four and a half billion km away here!) rotating on its axis, four of its 13 known moons visible in orbit. The images were taken every 4-5 hours between the days of April 25th – 30th, 2005, and were then combined to make a dynamic movie animation. And what a cool animation it is! Read the rest of this entry

A Sense of “Scale”

Here’s a very cool animation by motion designer Brad Goodspeed, showing what our night sky might look like were some of the other planets in our solar system at the same distance from us as the Moon. (About 240,000 miles / 384,000 km.)

Wait for Jupiter to make quite an entrance…

While watching the video of the lunar eclipse I posted the other day I was looking at the curvature of the earth’s shadow on the moon. It made me think about how large the earth might look if an exact copy of it was up there instead of the moon. Soon curiosity got the better of me, and I was animating!

Thanks Brad! Great work, if you ever add any more of the planets in I’ll be sure to share that here as well!

See the video on Brad’s blog post here.

Animation: Brad Goodspeed / Music: ‘Where We’re Calling From’ from the album ‘The Last Broadcast’ by ‘Doves’.

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