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Table of Contents Enchanted Learning
All About Astronomy
Site Index
Our Solar System Stars Glossary Printables, Worksheets, and Activities
The Sun The Planets The Moon Asteroids Kuiper Belt Comets Meteors Astronomers

Your weight on the Planets The Planets Your age on the Planets
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune pluto
NEPTUNE

Introduction to Neptune Inside Neptune Neptune's Rings Neptune's Atmosphere and the Great Dark Spot Neptune's Moons Activities, Web Links

NEPTUNE'S MOONS
Neptune has 13 moons, Triton, Nereid, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Larissa, Proteus, and Galatea, plus five smaller, unnamed moons. Triton and Proteus orbit close to Neptune; Nereid is in a distant orbit.

Triton is the only moon in our Solar System with a retrograde orbit (orbiting in the opposite direction than its primary, Neptune, is rotating).

The moon Triton is the coldest measured object in our Solar System, and Nereid is the Solar System object with the most eccentric orbit.

The moons of Neptune in order of distance from Neptune.
Moon Photo Discovery Distance from the center of Neptune (km) Diameter (km) Orbital period (in Earth days)
Naiad NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 48,230 58 0.29
Thalassa NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 50,070 80 0.3
Despina NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 52,530 148 0.33
Galatea NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 61,950 158 .43
Larissa NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 73,550 104 x 89 0.5
Proteus NASA's Voyager 2 mission, 1989 117,650 218 x 208 x 201 1.1
Neptune's second largest moon. This dark moon has a circular orbit just over the cloud-tops of Neptune. Proteus is dotted with impact craters and is irregularly shaped.
Triton Wm. Lassell, 1846 354,760 2,704 Synchronous
The largest of the 8 moons of Neptune. Unlike all other large planetary moons, Triton has a retrograde orbit (it rotates opposite to Neptune's rotation) and is in synchronous orbit. It also has a highly inclined axis. Triton is the coldest object that has been measured in our Solar System, with a temperature of -235° C (-391° F). This rocky moon has a polar ice cap at its south pole and many other varied geologic features including volcanoes, huge cracks in the surface, and geysers of gaseous nitrogen. It has a very thin, hazy atmosphere (mostly nitrogen) and a windy surface covered with nitrogen ice. Triton is slowly spiraling in towards Neptune.
Nereid G. Kuiper, 1949 5,513,400 340 360.1
Neptune's outermost (and third largest) moon is Nereid, which has an irregular shape. It is the smaller of Neptune's 2 larger moons. It has a VERY elliptical orbit, going as close as 867,000 miles from Neptune and as far as 6 million miles from it; it may be a captured asteroid. It takes almost one Earth year for Nereid to orbit Neptune in this extreme orbit (360.1 days). Nereid's has the most eccentric orbit in the solar system. The distance from Nereid to Neptune varies from about 1,353,600 kilometers (841,100 miles) to over seven times as far, 9,623,700 kilometers (5,980,200 miles).




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