Observe Far-Off Neptune at its Best for the Year #SpaceSaturday
With the fall of Pluto as a planet, Neptune takes the title of the furthest know planet in our solar system. It’s a cold blue sphere that doesn’t have the rings of Saturn, the big red dot of Jupiter, or a silly name. It is well-past the naked-eye range. But On September 16th, Neptune will be in a position to be observed with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Here’s more from Astronomy Now:
Observers based at mid-northern latitudes have had a very long wait for Neptune to achieve a decent peak altitude. Indeed, not since the late 1940s has Neptune appeared as far north in the sky. It lingered long in the depths of the southern sky for most of the later half of the twentieth-century.
Neptune is a gaseous ice-giant planet with a radius of 24,764 kilometres (15,388 miles), four times wider than Earth though three times smaller than Jupiter. It lies so far away that all amateurs can see through a telescope is its tiny, 2.4”-sized disc. A telescope in the 100–150mm (four- to six-inch) class, operating at around 100x, is powerful enough to resolve Neptune’s tiny blue-green disc. Unfortunately, even a large telescope struggles to glean much detail on its rather bland disc, though high resolution planetary imagers should have more success, especially when using infra-red filters in conjunction with an infra-red sensitive camera.
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