Neptune Facts: Interesting facts about the farthest planet you never knew

1. Neptune is the most distant planet.

Well, it may seem very obvious as pluto is no more considered a planet. But things were very complicated when Pluto was still a planet. Pluto’s orbit is very elliptical, and so there are periods when Pluto actually orbits closer to the Sun than Neptune. The last time this happened was in 1979, which lasted until 1999. During that period, Neptune was again the most distant planet.

2. Neptune is the densest gas giant in the Solar System.

With an equatorial radius of only 24,764 km, Neptune is smaller than all the other gas giants in the Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Neptune has a much higher density than Uranus. In fact, it has a density of 1.638 g/cm3.

3. Neptune spins on its axis very rapidly.

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Its equatorial clouds take 16 hours to make one rotation. This is because Neptune is not a solid body.

4. Neptune has a very thin collection of rings.

They are likely made up of ice particles mixed with dust grains and possibly coated with a carbon-based substance.

Image: Astronomytrek

5. Neptune is the Coldest Planet in the Solar System.

Temperatures on Neptune can dip down to 51.7 Kelvin, or -221.45 degrees Celsius (-366.6 °F). Pluto gets colder, experiencing temperatures as low as 33 K (-240 °C/-400 °F). But then again, Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.

6. Neptune has 14 moons.

The largest Neptunian moon, Triton, was discovered just 17 days after Neptune itself was discovered.

7. Neptune Probably Captured its Largest Moon, Triton.

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Triton circles Neptune in a retrograde orbit. That’s means that it orbits the planet backward relative to Neptune’s other moons. This is seen as an indication that the moon didn’t form in a place like the rest of Neptune’s moons. Triton is locked into synchronous rotation with Neptune.

8. Neptune has the second-largest gravity of any planet. 

In the solar system, it is second only to Jupiter.

9. Neptune has been visited only once.

The only spacecraft that has ever visited Neptune was NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989. The interesting news is that there no plans to visit this planet any time soon. Maybe sometime in the 2030s Neptune may be revisited.

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