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Neptune’s 14th Moon Discovered

July 18th, 2013

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  • On 15th July, 2013, a team of astronomers led by Mark Showalter of the SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California revealed to Sky & Telescope magazine that they had discovered a previously unknown fourteenth moon of blue-green planet Neptune in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope from 2004–2009.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope captured the moon as a white dot in photos of the planet on the outskirts of our solar system.
  • The moon is so small that it was not observed by the Voyager 2 spacecraft that flew by in 1989.
  • The moon is the smallest ever glimpsed around Neptune and measures just about 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) in diameter.
  • The moon, named S/2004 N1, is about 100 million times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the naked eye.
  • S/2004 N 1 is about 65,400 miles from Neptune, located between the orbits of the Neptunian moons Larissa and Proteus.
  • S/2004 N 1 completes one revolution around Neptune every 22 hours and 28.1 minutes.

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About Neptune & it’s other Moons

  • Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System.
  • It is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third-largest by mass.
  • Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth & was discovered on 23 September 1846.
  • Neptune has fourteen known moons, by far the largest of which is Triton, discovered by William Lassell on October 10, 1846, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself.
  • The moons of Neptune can be divided into two groups: regular and irregular.
  • The first group includes the seven inner moons, which follow circular prograde orbits lying in the equatorial plane of Neptune.
  • The second group consists of all other moons including Triton.
  • They generally follow inclined eccentric and often retrograde orbits far from Neptune; the only exception is Triton, which orbits close to the planet following a circular orbit, though retrograde.
  • In order of distance from Neptune, the regular moons are Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, S/2004 N 1 and Proteus.
  • In order of their distance from the planet, the irregular moons are Triton, Nereid, Halimede, Sao, Laomedeia, Neso and Psamathe.
  • Since Neptune was the Roman god of the sea, the planet’s moons have been named after lesser sea gods.

 

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