Neptune, The Farthest Planet From The Sun
Neptune is the last planet on our journey. It is the furthest planet from the Sun. Neptune is 2,798,000,000 miles from the Sun! Until 2006, Pluto was labeled as the farthest planet from the Sun. Recently, astronomers have decided to stop calling Pluto a planet. This is because there are many objects the size of Pluto beyond Neptune. This means Pluto is no longer special; it does not stand out like the other planets of our solar system. In the photo below you can see that Neptune is the 8th planet from the Sun.
Watch the video below that explains why astronomers decided that Pluto was not a planet in 2006.
Why is Neptune a Darker Shade of Blue Than Uranus?
Neptune is very similar to its neighboring planet, Uranus. Both are made of similar materials (ice and gas) and have cores. Both are also blue in color because they have a gas named methane in their atmospheres. The light we see comes from a visible spectrum of colors including red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Check out more about the visible light spectrum here http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ems/visible.html These are the colors that you would see in a rainbow. On Uranus and Neptune, the methane gas absorbs the reddish colors of the spectrum and only blue reflects off Uranus and Neptune. That is why both planets appear blue. Why is Neptune bluer? Neptune in bluer because it is farther from the Sun and has less sunlight reflect off it. This causes Neptune to look like a darker shade of blue compared to Uranus. Below we can see the difference in blue color between Uranus and Neptune.
How Big is Neptune?
Neptune is the fourth largest planet in our solar system. 57 Earths would be able to fit in Neptune! Check out Neptune's size compared to Earth in the picture below.
Does Neptune Have an Atmosphere?
Neptune's atmosphere is very similar to Uranus' atmosphere. It is made of hydrogen (74%), helium (25%), and methane (1%). Like the other gas planets, Neptune has storms that occur in its atmosphere along with very strong winds. In fact, Neptune has the strongest winds out of any planet in the solar system. Some astronomers believe winds on Neptune blow at more than 1,200mph! That's close to the speed of a military fighter jet! Below is a video of a fighter jet, imagine winds going that fast.
How Long Does it Take Neptune to Orbit the Sun?
It takes Neptune 165 years to orbit the Sun! Neptune is the furthest planet from the Sun. Remember the pattern we have seen throughout this unit: the further away a planet is from the Sun, the longer it takes to orbit the Sun. Neptune just completed an orbit around the Sun in 2011. It's last orbit before that occurred before electricity, T.V., cars, or computers in 1846! Below is a map of The United States in 1846, the last time Neptune made a full orbit of the Sun. A lot has changed since then.
Take a look at the video below that shows many things we have learned about Neptune in this lesson and more.
Time to Share!
Uranus and Neptune are both alike and different. Give one similarity and two differences between Uranus and Neptune.