Who Discovered Neptune – Solving the Mystery?

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Gazing at the starry skies will never reveal one of the planets in our Solar System. If this is so, how were scientists able to localize it long before the telescope was invented?  More so, who really discovered Neptune?

According to NASA, Neptune is the eighth planet orbiting the sun and owner of the largest orbit of 165 Earth years. The gas giant is too dim to be seen with the naked eye despite its colossal size of nearly four times the size of our home. This also makes it the fourth-largest planet discovered to date.

Another amazing fact about the invisible planet is its blue color. The planet contains a high concentration of methane which absorbs red wavelengths of light and emits blue ones to outer space. Almost similar to Earth, except that our home planet has a compound of Oxygen in its atmosphere.

Who Discovered Neptune – Solving the Mystery?


Contrary to popular belief Neptune was not discovered by a telescope. According to history, a French astronomer and mathematician, Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, calculated the presence and position of the planet. The scientist then forwarded the information to Johann Galle who confirmed the data on the same night he received the data.

Interestingly, Neptune was confirmed on the night of 23 September 1846 by Galle. The report showed that Le Verrier had calculated the planet’s location just 1° shy of its orbit. This was a great moment for mathematics and physics, Even though the French astronomer used mostly arithmetic, he also relied on the law of gravity created by Newton.

Notably, all scientists at that time credited Le Verrier with the discovery of the planet, granting him the honor of naming the planet. The mathematician chose the name of the Roman god of the sea, Neptune.  The newly found planet has played an interesting role in human life since.

After the discovery of the planet, documents revealed that other scientists may have observed the mysterious planet before Le Verrier. These included Galileo Galilei in 1613, Jérôme Lalande in 1795, and John Herschel in 1830. These scientists except for John Couch Adams, failed to follow through or report it as a planet.

The discovery of Neptune continues to be a dramatic story for readers.





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