The Discovery of Neptune

Uranus was the first new planet to be discovered observationally (in 1781 by Sir William Herschel, see Georgium Sidus). Scientists quickly used Newton's Laws to calculated Uranus' expected orbit. When that orbit was actually measured, though, it was found to be slightly off. In 1824 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel suggested that another planet, beyond Uranus, could account for the deviation.

English mathematician John Couch Adams set himself the task of calculating the expected characteristics and position of this mystery-planet in 1843. He found a solution in 1845, but in spite of the rigorous refinement of his calculations, Adams was ignored by the Royal Astronomer at Greenwich.

Meanwhile in France, French mathematician Urbain Leverrier decided to try his hand at the same problem. In 1846 he was able to independently duplicate Adams' results. Leverrier was more persistent than Adams, though. After he too was ignored by his national observatory, Leverrier sent his results to Johann Galle at the Berlin Observatory who quickly found the planet Neptune.

The discovery of Neptune based on a mathematical prediction was seen as evidence for the universality of Newton's Laws of Gravitation.

neptune, and it's placement in the sky is used in astrology to describe mystical beliefs, spirituality, intuition-- basically neptune has to do with mind expansion (including drugs, say many interpretations). because neptune spends fourteen years in each sign, the effects are societal, rather than personal. neptune symbolizes:

the placement of this planet within the zodiac will give an indication as to how society is expanding it's collective mind through religion, drugs, spirituality, etc. neptune is currently in aquarius.

in astrological charts, neptune is symbolized as the trident carried by the roman god of the sea:

     .   .   .
    /|\ /|\ /|\
     |   |   |
      `--|--'
       __|__
         |
         |
Neptune:

Mass .................... 3.307 x 1022lbm, 1.0278 x 1023 kg
Density ...................... 109.9 lb/cubic foot
Mean Radius .................. 15,388 miles
Max Distance from Sun ........ 2,881,000,000 miles
Min Distance from Sun ........ 2,771,000,000 miles
Gravity relative to Earth .... 1.12
Rotation period .............. 16 h, 6 min, 36 s
Revolution time around sun ... 164 years (60,189 d)
Orbital velocity ............. 3.38 miles/second
Number of Moons .............. 8, Triton, Nereid, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus.

Neptune

is blue because of the methane in the atmosphere.

has winds at 1500 mph (the highest on Earth are at 150 mph)

can hold 60 Earths

has seasons that last about 40 Earth years. When the south pole is in summer, it is in constant daylight for 40 years.

takes 165 Earth years to rotate aroud the Sun. As it was discovered in 1846, it has not yet made a complete orbit while we've known it exists.

has 8 moons. It's largest moon, Triton, has the coldest surface of any body in the solar system: -235 C.

Triton rotates the opposite way it orbits, and is gradually getting closer to Neptune. In about 10 to 100 million years, the two bodies will collide, leaving Neptune with more rings than Saturn.

Every 248 Earth years Neptune becomes the furthest planet from the Sun for 20 years.

Nep"tune (?), n. [L. Neptunus.]

1. Rom. Myth.

The son of Saturn and Ops, the god of the waters, especially of the sea. He is represented as bearing a trident for a scepter.

2. Astron.

The remotest known planet of our system, discovered -- as a result of the computations of Leverrier, of Paris -- by Galle, of Berlin, September 23, 1846. Its mean distance from the sun is about 2,775,000,000 miles, and its period of revolution is about 164,78 years.

<-- now Pluto is the remotest "planet", but recently (1996) the question has been raised whether Pluto can be called a "planet", so this may still be correct! -->

Neptune powder, an explosive containing nitroglycerin, -- used in blasting. -- Neptune's cup Zool., a very large, cup-shaped, marine sponge (Thalassema Neptuni).

 

© Webster 1913.

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