• LOCATION 8 | Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson

    Approaching Neptune

    Marnie] Hold on to your hats, we're approaching Neptune the windiest planet in our solar system. Neptune's winds can be nine times stronger than Earth's.

    Fred, what can you tell us about Neptune?

    [Fred] Well, where do I begin?

    Neptune is thirty times the distance of the Earth from the Sun and is SO Far away, that it takes 165 earth years to go around the sun just once. That's a long time between Christmas's! Like Earth Neptune has seasons, but as the year is so long the four seasons last for over 40 years each. One day only lasts 16 hours - 8 less than our day - and sunlight takes 4 hours to travel from the Sun to Neptune.

    Of the giant planets, Neptune is the densest which means it weighs the most, and one of only two gas giants in our solar system. It is roughly four times the size of the earth, has 14 moons, and is made up by a hot fluid of "icy" materials—water, methane and ammonia—above a small, rocky core. These components, specifically methane, make it a deep blue colour. This is why it was named after the Roman god of the sea - Neptune.

    We can't see it from Earth at night with the naked eye, so you'll need a good telescope if you want to see it. This is one reason it was discovered not by sight, but using mathematical calculations made by Urbain Le Verrier. Johann Galle discovered the planet in 1846.

    Only ONE spacecraft has visited Neptune - NASA's Voyager 2. This took place in 1989 on its way out of the solar system. Voyager 2 is STILL making its journey out of our solar system, and being tracked by the radio telescopes at Parkes and Tidbinbilla.

    Depending on your speed, you should reach Neptune in just a few minutes.

Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson