It’s so often the planet that gets forgotten, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a whole host of incredible facts to learn about this alien planet. Take a look at these 18 interesting facts about Neptune, give them some thought and then wow your friends with your amazing knowledge of the outer reaches of the solar system.
Now that Pluto has lost its planet status, Neptune is the most distant planet from Earth in the solar system. Although the distance is constantly changing, the closest Neptune gets to us is 4.3 billion km away.
It’s also the smallest gas giant in our galactic neighbourhood, with a radius of 24,622 km.
The strength of Neptune’s gravity is a little stronger than here on Earth. Earth’s gravity is 9.807 m/s², and Neptune’s gravity is 11.15 m/s².
The weather is nothing to write home about — it has the strongest winds in the solar system at over 2,100 km/hour!
If that wasn’t bad enough it’s also the coldest with a typical temperature of -221 Celsius.
Neptune has 5 rings which can only just be seen. They’re named after the astronomers that made major discoveries about the planet – Galle, Le Verrier, Lassell, Arago, and Adams.
Between 1979-99 the large elliptical orbit of Neptune meant that Pluto was actually closer to the Sun.
Neptune spins a little faster than Earth. Each day is just 16 hours, 6 mins.
The rings are 20% dust and 80% small rocks covered in organic compounds.
They are totally different to the iconic, highly visibly rings of Saturn which are mostly made up of icy material.
Neptune’s rings are much younger than the planet itself and are thought to be debris from a collision between its original moons.
Neptune has a total of 14 moons – Despina, Galatea, Halimede, Laomedeia, Psamathe, Triton, Thalassa, Nereid, Neso, Naiad, Proteus, Sao, Larissa and Hippocamp.
Triton is Neptune’s largest moon and it’s thought that the strength of its gravity pulled it away from the Kuiper Belt and held it in orbit around Neptune.
It’s predicted that in several billion years Triton will be smashed to bits by Neptune’s gravity leaving a highly visible ring.
NASA‘s Voyager 2 got within 3,000 km of Neptune’s North Pole in 1989.