Springtime on Neptune

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations in August 2002 show thatNeptune's brightness has increased significantly since 1996. The rise is due to an increase in the amount of clouds observed in the planet's southern hemisphere. These increases may be due to seasonal changes caused by a variation in solar heating. Because Neptune's rotation axis is inclined 29 degrees to its orbital plane, it is subject to seasonal solar heating during its 164.8-year orbit of the Sun. This seasonal variation is 900 times smaller than experienced by Earth because Neptune is much farther from the Sun. The rate of seasonal change also is much slower because Neptune takes 165 years to orbit the Sun. So, springtime in the southern hemisphere will last for several decades! Remarkably, this is evidence that Neptune is responding to the weak radiation from the Sun. These images were taken in visible and near-infrared light by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

Credit:

NASA/ESA, L. Sromovsky, and P. Fry (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Id:opo0317a
Type:Observation
Release date:15 May 2003, 15:00
Size:3000 x 2400 px

About the Object

Name:Neptune
Type:• Solar System : Planet
• X - Solar System Images/Videos

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
467 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
Sii
673 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Infrared
Z
850 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2

Image Formats

Large JPEG
565.3 KB
Screensize JPEG
121.5 KB

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