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Leverrier's work, while it had been completed at a later date than had that of Adams, had resulted in the actual discovery of Neptune. Neptune has a diameter of 31,200 miles, or about 4 times the diameter of the Earth. The oblateness of Neptune is only J / 45 , smaller than that of any of the other giant planets. The orbit of Neptune has a very small eccentricity, .009, but even this small amount repre- sents a difference of 48 million miles between perihelion and aphelion. Its eccentricity, however, is the largest of that of any of the planets, so at perihelion it is 2,761,000,000 miles from the Sun, but at aphelion, it moves out to a distance of 4,589,000,000 miles. Research toward locating the planet was carried on sporadically for many years at the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona.Both astronomers are now given equal credit for the discovery. Its perihelion distance is 49 million miles less than is Neptune's aphelion distance, so that, at certain times. Lowell died in 1916, and years later, a young astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, was assigned to pursue the search.On the very night that he received Leverrier's figures, he searched and found Neptune. Meanwhile, English astronomers had belatedly become aware of the importance of Adams' papers. Neptune is so far away that no markings have been seen upon the visible surface of the planet, but spectroscopic analysis of the light it reflects indicates that its atmosphere is very much like that of the other major planets, with allowance made for Neptune's lower temperature at its greater distance from the Sun. One of them may be the largest satellite in the solar system, although its exact size has not yet been determined.They had been searching, too, but in a much more desultory and laborious fashion. Yes, in that it is inclined 29.6° from the plane of its orbit. It is probably very similar to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. This is Triton, discovered by Lassell in 1846, shortly after the discovery of Neptune itself. Neptune presents a faint, slightly bluish disk to the telescope observer.The best available value for the diameter is 3,700 miles. Pluto takes 247.7 Earth years to complete one revolution about the Sun. There is no knowledge yet of Pluto's inclination to the plane of its orbit. If this is so, any atmosphere there would be completely and solidly frozen, for at Pluto's distance from the Sun, its surface temperature must be extremely low. A telescope of considerable power is needed to show Pluto. The nearest approach that it is possible for the two planets to make to each other is about 240 million miles. It is the only principal planet which can move outside the twelve constellations of the conventional Zodiac. The orbit of Pluto had such a great eccentricity that at one point it lay closer to the Sun than did the orbit of Neptune.If this is correct, then Pluto is the smallest of the principal planets, apart from Mercury, and could not have produced measurable irregularities in the move- ments of Uranus or Neptune — so that its discovery was purely fortuitous. The first of these factors made Pluto seem rather more satellite-size than planet-size; while the second indicated that it had, at one time, been perhaps associated with Neptune. Gerard Kuiper made public his own belief that Pluto had been once a satellite of Neptune and declared that the rotational period of Pluto — about 6% days — confirmed this theory.Their work was finally successful and they too found Neptune. Like the other giant planets, Neptune rotates at high speed. Neptune takes 164.79 of our years to make one rev- olution about the Sun. At Neptune's distance of almost 3 68 JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS, NEPTUNE AND PLUTO thousand million miles from the Sun, the difference between summer and winter is purely academic. The surface temperature on Neptune has been estimated at about —325° F. Triton's diameter has been estimated at over 3,000 miles to 5,800 miles. Neptune is now to be seen in Ophiuchus (the Serpent bearer) which is not one of the official Zodiacal constellations, but does enter the Zodiac between Scorpio and Sagittarius. It is about l Y magnitudes fainter than the limit of naked-eye visibility. Pluto is almost 40 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is. The period of Pluto's rotation is very difficult to determine, as are most of the items of physical in- formation about the planet. Pluto was discovered mathe- matically, as was Neptune.A controversy raged for some time over the question of who should receive credit for the discovery. The mean distance of Neptune from the Sun is 2,796,700,000 miles. The orbital velocity of Neptune is 3% miles per second. The second satellite, Nereid, was found in 1949 by Gerard Kuiper. The motion of Triton is retrograde — opposite to the direction of Neptune's rotation. Triton is about 219,000 miles from Neptune ; Nereid has a very eccentric orbit round Neptune. Telescopes do not show any definite markings on the disk of Neptune. Its mean distance from the Sun is 3,675,000,000 miles. In 1956, an estimate of 6% Earth days was given for Pluto's rotation period. There were irregularities in the motion of Uranus and Neptune which early led to the belief that another planet in an orbit outside the orbit of Neptune was affecting their even progress around the Sun. Picker- ing were the first to attempt to calculate the position of this undis- covered planet, but many years passed before it was actually found.
He also had good weather and the time to make careful observations.
These irregularities called for an 70 JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS, NEPTUNE AND PLUTO object which would have, at least, the mass of the Earth. If Pluto is the size that has been estimated — from 4,000 to 10,000 miles in diameter — the presence of any atmos- phere is unlikely. There is no gravitational evidence, such as irregu- larities in Pluto's motion, that would reveal the presence of satellites. Even through the largest tele- scopes, Pluto presents nothing but a faint, indefinite disk. Even though there are times during the passage of the two planets about the Sun when Pluto is 49 million miles nearer to the Sun than is Neptune, the orbit of Pluto is inclined by more than 17° to the plane of the ecliptic. Almost from the time of its discovery, many astronomers voiced then- suspicions that Pluto may at one time have been a satellite of the planet Neptune.
The best estimates of the size of Pluto, drawn from observations made since its discovery, all seem to indicate that it is much smaller than the Earth. Even with the largest telescopes, Pluto reveals only a vague disk without definite outlines or any sur- face markings. If, however, its mass is sufficient to produce the observed perturbations in the orbit of Neptune, that mass might be sufficient to generate enough gravitational force to hold an atmosphere upon Pluto's surface. If there should be any satellites of Pluto, they would undoubtedly be so faint that even photographs of long exposure through large tele- scopes would hardly be able to reveal them. This disk may not represent the complete diameter of Pluto, but may be a sort of high light covering a region about the centre of the side of the planet which is facing the observer. Even though they should reach the corresponding parts of their orbits at the same time, Pluto would never be in the same plane as Neptune. Pluto is near the boundary of Virgo (the Virgin) and Coma Berenices (Berenice's Hair). The size of Pluto did not indicate that its mass would be sufficient to account for the perturbations observed in the orbit of Neptune and blamed on the new planet.
There were those who held that the laws of Newton and Kepler, under which the path of Uranus had been calculated, were at fault.
Two young students set to work on the problem independently, without any knowledge of the effort's of the other. Adams worked on the assumption that there was an eighth planet beyond Uranus which was the cause of the perturbations in the orbit of Uranus.