Wikipedia picture of the day for September 23


Neptune is the eighth and farthest known planet from the Sun in the Solar System. In the Solar System, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter, the third-most-massive planet and the densest giant planet. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth, slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus. Neptune is denser and physically smaller than Uranus because its greater mass causes more gravitational compression of its atmosphere. Neptune orbits the Sun once every 164.8 years at an average distance of 30.1 au (4.5 billion km; 2.8 billion mi). It is named after the Roman god of the sea and has the astronomical symbol ♆, a stylised version of the god Neptune’s trident.

This picture of Neptune was taken by NASA‘s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989, at a range of 4.4 million miles (7.1 million kilometres) from the planet, approximately four days before closest approach. The photograph shows the Great Dark Spot, a storm about the size of Earth, in the centre, while the fast-moving bright feature nicknamed the “Scooter” and the Small Dark Spot can be seen on the western limb. These clouds were seen to persist for as long as the spacecraft’s cameras could resolve them.

Photograph credit: NASA / JPL