It's been a long year for Neptune. A full 165 Earth years ago, German astronomer Johann Galle first spied the icy blue giant giving wide berth to the sun some 2.8 billion miles from the solar system's center. Today, it's right back where we found it again, marking one full Neptune year since the planet's discovery.
Neptune, of course, has a somewhat tumultuous and storied history. It was the most distant planet in our solar system before Pluto was discovered in 1930, pushing Neptune to 8th and second-most-distant. When Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet it was again elevated to superlative status.
Click to launch the photo gallery
Neptune is also the first planet that was discovered via mathematical prediction rather than by telescopic observation. It wasn't actually Galle who first found Neptune, but a Frenchman named Urbain Le Verrier, a mathematician puzzled by Uranus' refusal to act the way gravity said it should. In 1846, Le Verrier predicted the existence of Neptune, a more distant body that was affecting Uranus' swagger.
Le Verrier mailed his prediction to Galle at Berlin Observatory along with the coordinates where he expected Neptune to be found. Sure enough, there it was, 57 times bigger than Earth and icy blue (temperatures dip well below -300 degrees Fahrenheit on Neptune). And today, there it is again, right back where it was when human eyes first saw it--a birthday of sorts, from a human perspective. Cheers to you, Big Blue It's been a long journey.
We all know that deep inside, Pluto will always be a planet, and THE most distant planet!
BTW, cool photos!
So Neptune is having a birthday of return of sorts. And as the Mayan calendar comes to a end in December 2012, our Sun will be closest to the center of the Milkyway. I do not believe anything bad is going to happen December 2012. The Mayan calendar ended. It did not end with the words at end of the calendar ' oh-shit! ', but it just simply ended. They say our current humans have been around for 250,000 years or so and our culture is somewhere between 5000 to 6000 years old. Astronomers estimated that the Big Bang occurred between 12 and 14 billion years ago. It definitely seems possible that another civilization much older than ours and of a higher intelligence could be across the stars watching us the same way we now look to the stars and planets. Maybe as we become closer to the center of the Milkyway, someone across the heavens will reach out and attempt to communicate with us. It would be an opportunistic time to do.
Not for 17 years every 230 years
How is that huge comment at all on topic? One sentence about neptune...
@bjorn, " Hi!", I can only guess you are referring to my comments. I do see your criticism, but I neglect to see you supporting comments.... I suppose you are still preparing and they will come later.
Cycles, Anniversaries, Rituals are huge in science, history, archeologically and time. Besides what is the point of an anniversary if not the social aspect of communicating it with someone else. I suppose you want us all to have a party for Neptune and where funny Neptune hats and sing Neptune songs, but we can also thing bigger than this and look much farther in stars too.
Mr. bjorn, I am excited and really look forward to your thoughtful thoughts about this article. WOW!
I think you have too much time and nothing important to do, so you come onto popsci and empty whatever comes to mind into your comments, screaming for that attention, that voice you so crave to have heard, so after you have written your garbage you can sit back and think about what a profound statement you must have made.
Then consider the extra time you must have to COME BACK AND READ WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT YOU, so you can repeat the process
I just want on topic discussion
Somehow i dont think the anniversary of neptune warrants a discussion of intelligent life forms contacting us because somehow getting closer to the center of the milky way makes us "cooler" and makes the aliens wanna talk to us.
dont get personal
You are just as bad with your comments concerning gump. Don't feed the trolls.
Pretty interesting little bit of news for the day. I knew Neptunes orbit was long but I forgot how long it was.
@bjorn, I gave you a nice, polite introduction to world of readers. We were all waiting on the steps to you intellect, comments and amazing of the artical. Still we wait and wait and yet you, yourself have said nothing of the artical itself. You just elaborate on me. Gosh, I feel shy now. Am I deserving of so much attention. Well, just to let you know you not my type. I do have another quest for you@bjorn, why are you so shy obout @topstop comment. His comment his highly cryptic. Yet this seems to slide by you. It must be that super powers of observation you have. I really look forward to you sincere, intelligent, commentaries on the artical self. Show good leadership, speak, dog, speak!
Not sure Birthday fits well, I would have chose Happy New Years, still all in all cool info!
@Kherzhul I dont know... I am excited about the fact that Pluto is not a planet. I have no qualms with letting that title go. We have since found a 4 other dwarf planets. and Pluto isn't even the biggest dwarf planet. All that time we heard about planet x. it was real! and it was bigger than Pluto... but then they found 3 more. I like the new classification. "my very educated mother just ate nothing"
its not even that hard to change the famous mnemonic.
@I4Future the title reads Happy Anniversary, Neptune
the article reads: a birthday of sorts
Pluto, is the second most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth most massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Pluto is the largest known member of the Kuiper belt. Originally considered a planet, Pluto's position as part of the Kuiper belt has caused it to be reclassified as a "dwarf planet". It is compositionally similar to many other objects of the Kuiper belt
i wonder if trolling or winning a debate on the internet of all places makes peoples day?
Come on, this day is about Neptune. Stop ruining its birthday party
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEPTUNE!!!!
I think the 'New Year' concept works just as well as the Anniversary one does. Depends on how you look at it; celebration on passage of time, celebration of discovery.
Neptune, a more distant body that was affecting Uranus’ swagger.