April 5, 2020

AstroEvent: The Many Birthdays of Neptune.

Current position of Neptune versus discovery. (Created by Author using Starry Night).

Mark your calendars; the planet Neptune, the first world discovered by a tour de force of pure mathematics, passes a landmark this week…sort of. The story harkens way back to a prediction made by Urbain Le Verrier of the position of an object tugging on the Planet Uranus. (Yes, we know of the John Couch Adams controversy!) The object was spotted by Johann Galle and Heinrich d’Arrest at the Berlin observatory on the night of September 23-24th 1846 using Le Verrier’s predictions and was within a degree of where it should be. But did you know that Neptune is just now completing its first full orbit since discovery? [Read more...]

Astro-Challenge: Spot Neptune in its Original Discovery Position!

In this week’s astro-event, we challenge you, the sky watching public, to view the planet Neptune as it was first seen on the night of its discovery on September 23, 1846. On that evening, astronomer Johann Galle turned the Berlin Observatories’ 9-inch refractor on a position given to him by French mathematician Urbain Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, and the solar system hasn’t been the same since. The discovery of Neptune was a triumph for predictive mathematics and a good test of Newtonian mechanics in a celestial format.

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