DR. SKY BLOG

Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view

Sep 22, 2021, 2:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

September and October bring us some clear and cooler nights – just what the doctor ordered to view some amazing objects.

With the change of seasons Wednesday, we return to the near equality of day and night. That actually takes place on Sept. 25, with the near equal amount of daylight and night.

With many planets to see in our late September sky, we have another planet that has a very interesting story to tell and one which is visible with a small telescope.

Welcome Neptune, the now eighth planet from the sun and one which was actually discovered back on Sept. 23, 1846, with mathematical calculations from French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier and German astronomer Johann Galle.

It is also said that Galileo plotted Neptune, but thought it was just a faint background star.

Neptune is the fourth largest of the planets in terms of diameter.

Neptune is the densest of the gas planets and one of the coldest in the entire solar system.

With a diameter of 30,599 miles, Neptune, named after the Roman god of the sea, has an incredible 14 satellites.

The orbit of Neptune takes it once around the sun in 164 years. It returned to nearly the same location in our skies back in 2010.

The planet has a blue color to it due to the large amount of hydrogen and helium in the clouds.

Neptune is technically visible in a pair of binoculars, but a telescope is what is needed to view it with some clarity.

Here is an observation chart for the location of Neptune.

Here is a more detailed link for those with large telescopes.

Elusive Neptune has a magnitude of plus 7.9 and a diameter in the telescope of just 2.3 seconds of arc; very small indeed but at 2,688,000,000 miles away that is still amazing that you can see it at all.

Learn more here about the amazing planet Neptune, now the most distant of the major planets in our solar system.

Good luck in finding this celestial treasure!


To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

Dr. Sky Blog

(NASA Photo)...
Steve Kates

Red letter days ahead in December as Mars moves closer to Earth

During the month of December, expect to hear a lot about Mars and how best to view it and learn about it.
18 hours ago
(Pixabay Photos)...
Steve Kates

It’s not a Thanksgiving turkey in the sky – that’s Cygnus the Swan

Point a pair of binoculars toward the sky on Thanksgiving night and find the magnificent Cygnus the Swan constellation.
8 days ago
NASA's new moon rocket lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral,...
Steve Kates

Everything you need to know about NASA’s Artemis I rocket to the moon

The long-awaited launch of the NASA Artemis 1 moon rocket has finally happened!
15 days ago
This Crab Nebula mosaic image was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA/ESA Image)...
Steve Kates

The magic of constellation Taurus includes open star clusters

As we move deeper into the skies of autumn, we come across the zodiac sign of Taurus the Bull.
22 days ago
(NASA Image)...
Steve Kates

Taurid meteor shower could bring in colorful fireball season in coming days

With Halloween behind us and the prospect of a new set of November events to look forward to in our skies, we present fireball season 2022!
29 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Steve Kates

Lots to be thankful for up in the November skies, including a total lunar eclipse

As 2022 is nearly complete, we look to the skies of November for some amazing events to rally around, the best of which is a total lunar eclipse.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view