Solar System: Outer Planets - Neptune
The Windy Planet
Like the other Jovian planets, Neptune has rings, it generates
more energy than it receives from the Sun, and its atmosphere is
constantly changing due to temperature variations. Neptune, however,
is home to the strongest winds in the solar systemwith some
that travel at 1,243 miles (2,000 km) per hour!
Neptune has been visited by only one spacecraft, the Voyager 2,
in 1989. During that visit Voyager took lots of pictures of Neptune
and its most prominent featurethe Great Dark Spotwhich
raced around Neptunes southern hemisphere at 700 miles (1,267
km) per hour. Neptunes atmosphere changes so rapidly that
in 1994 when the Hubble Space Telescope photographed it, the Great
Dark Spot had disappeared, but a new spot was forming in the northern
The orbit of Neptunes neighbor, Pluto, is so eccentric, that
sometimes Pluto crosses inside the orbit of Neptune. From 1979 to
1999, Neptune was the most distant planet in the solar system.
Neptune can be seen with binoculars if you know where to look,
but a telescope will ensure a better view.
Courtesy of NASA JPL