Neptune
Geyser on Triton '89

Geyser on Triton '89

David was present at JPL in 1989 when the images from Voyager 2 came in from its fly-by of Neptune and Triton, so he saw the dark streaks on Triton's pink methane ice, caused by dark material falling from the plumes of geysers. On his return he made this painting, which appeared on the cover of Sky & Telescope.

Geyser on Triton 2004

Geyser on Triton 2004

The geysers observed by Voyager 2 actually take the form of columns of gas which rise vertically for several kilometres and are then sheared off by high-altitude winds. Here, one is erupting inside a valley, while another is just behind the horizon. The outfall of dark material against the thin haze on Triton is slightly exaggerated. (Digital, from Futures.)

Neptune from Nereid

Neptune from Nereid

Neptune's tiny satellite Nereid can pass as close as 1.4 million kilometres from the planet, from where the planet appears as big as Earth does from our Moon; but it can move as far as 10 million km away. Its highly inclined orbit of 29 degrees means that it gets a view of the rings open at a wide angle. 11 more moons have now been discovered. (Digital, from Futures.)

Neptune is almost Uranus's twin in size and appearance. Somewhat bluer, its atmosphere seems to be more active, with whitish storm clouds and an occasional Dark Spot, as first imaged by Voyager 2 in 1989 (Hardy was at JPL when the pictures from the fly-by came in). This is probably a giant hurricane that has been raging for over 400 years.

Text & images copyright © 2015 AstroArt by David A. Hardy. All Rights Reserved.

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