Neptune from 185 million miles Voyager 2, February 1989

Neptune from 185 million miles Voyager 2, February 1989


Vintage chromogenic print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm

Caption taped to verso

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first glimpse of Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989, with the closest approach occurring on 25th August 1989. NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the late summer of 1977.

[Caption] These two colour images of Neptune were assembled from pictures taken by Voyager 2 about two hours apart on January 23, 1989, when the spacecraft was about 309 million kilometres (185 million miles) from the planet. A bright cloud feature is visible near the centre of Neptune’s disc in the earlier, left hand image and near the right edge of the planet in the right hand image. The feature, at about 30 degrees south latitude, is similar to spots seen on Neptune by planetary astronomers using Earth-based telescopes. Motion of the cloud feature during the time between the two images is consistent with the 17 to 18 hour rotation period derived from ground telescope data. Also visible in the lower part of the images is a dark band of clouds encircling the southern pole, which is brighter; this banded appearance is similar to cloud structures seen on Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. The pictures show detail as small as about 6,000 kilometres (3,500 miles), somewhat better than the best telescope images from Earth. They were made from image taken through violet, clear and orange filters; the natural colour of Neptune, like that of its neighbour Uranus, is a pale blue-green caused by methane gas in the atmosphere which absorbs red light. The fact that distinct cloud features are visible while the spacecraft is still so distant suggests that pictures taken as Voyager 2 approaches its August 24, 1989, flyby of Neptune will show far more detail than was visible in the atmosphere of Uranus, which Voyager 2 encountered in January 1986.

Condition: mint

About the Voyager missions here and watch the probe's distance from Earth increase (and occasionally decrease!) in real time here.


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