Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view
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.
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