Monday, July 11, 2011

Neptune's First Orbit: 09/24/1846 - 07/12/2011

On September 23/24 1846, the planet Neptune was discovered in the sky near Aquarius and Capricornus. Tonight (July 12), it will be viewed in the exact location. Why the significance? Neptune has completed one full orbit around the Sun since it was discovered: (approximately) 165 years ago (exactly 164.79 days).

At exactly 22:27 UT (6:27 pm EDT), Neptune will reach this point, if you can see it! To find how to compute UT to EDT (Eastern Daylight-Savings Time), CDT, MDT, PDT, or any other location worldwide, use this site. Although this site is mainly for the US, it's principles are world-wide used.

To find Neptune, you can use Sky&Telescope's planet-find chart. The third picture down show's Neptune's passing in 2011 along with Uranus'. This document is detailed. Neptune is the only planet you can't see with your eyes - miribile dictu! - on very clear nights can you pull of Uranus.

This is where Neptune was originally viewed when it was first seen in 1846. Credit:
EarthSky gives you a kind-of-better viewing chart for Neptune's anniversary.

So, as you go on with your life, remember to wish Neptune a happy birthday! Neptune won't return to this spot until (approximately) 2175 AD!

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