Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Some beautiful new (old) views of Neptune and Triton

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

20-09-2016 14:40 CDT

Topics: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, Voyager 1 and 2, Triton, Neptune, Neptune's moons

Voyager flybys of the giant planets never get old. Here are three newly processed views of the most distant ice giant, Neptune, and its likely captured Kuiper belt object moon, Triton. First, a global view:

Neptune from Voyager 2

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Justin Cowart

Neptune from Voyager 2
This Voyager 2 Narrow Angle Camera image of Neptune was taken on August 20, 1989 as the spacecraft approached the planet for a flyby on August 25. The Great Dark Spot, flanked by cirrus clouds, is at center. A smaller dark storm, Dark Spot Jr., is rotating into view at bottom left. Additionally, a patch of white cirrus clouds to its north, named "Scooter" for its rapid motion relative to other features, is visible. This image was constructed using orange, green and synthetic violet (50/50 blend of green filter and UV filter images) taken between 626 and 643 UT.

Next, a closeup on the Great Dark Spot. Unlike Jupiter's Great Red Spot, Neptune's Great Spot disappeared after the Voyager flyby. From Earth we have been able to see other spots come and go over the decades.

Neptune's Great Dark Spot

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Justin Cowart

Neptune's Great Dark Spot
Neptune's Great Dark Spot rotating into view of Voyager 2 late on August 23, 1989. This image is a combination of two images narrow angle camera images taken through the spacecraft's green and clear filters to reduce noise. It has been colorized with three wide angle camera images taken through orange, green, and violet filters.

Finally, a departure view, with an appearance by Triton.

Crescent Neptune and Triton

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Justin Cowart

Crescent Neptune and Triton
This OGV (orange, green, and violet filters) color image of Neptune and Triton was captured by Voyager 2 as it departed the Neptune system. This image was taken around 735 UT on August 31, 1989. The small amounts of chromatic aberration around the horns of the crescent Neptune are due to smearing of the images during the long exposures necessary to image Neptune in the low lighting of the outer Solar System.

I'm glad to add Justin Cowart's work to the expanding amateur image library!

Another amateur working with Voyager data is Brian Burns, who's trying to make automatically processed movies from the Voyager flybys and posting the results on his Youtube channel. Here's just one of them, featuring narrow-angle camera images from the Neptune encounter; at about 2:20 you can see Triton sneaking across the field of view as Voyager 2 departs.

See other posts from September 2016


Read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, Voyager 1 and 2, Triton, Neptune, Neptune's moons


Tim: 09/20/2016 03:34 CDT

Justin Cowart's remastered images are quite simply stunning. Those images are also a timely reminder that the Neptunian and Uranian systems are overdue for orbiter missions which will no doubt reveal discoveries new to science.

Gene: 09/21/2016 12:42 CDT

Looks to be Triton passing on the opposite side of Neptune around 2:45 in the video. Very cool.

eltodesukane: 09/21/2016 09:20 CDT

It`s a shame we haven`t gone back there, all the while wasting trillions of dollars on the useless Space Shuttle and useless Space Station.

LocalFluff: 09/25/2016 07:59 CDT

Lovely! I love Neptune, it's my favorite planet (everyone should have one). The Mystic as Gustav Holst called it in his ghostly symphony a century ago, when there also were only 8 planets, a number going up and down like an elevator. It was a triumph for science and human intelligence that its location was correctly predicted before it was first observed. What kind of creatures are we to figure out such things? Neptune might be the most planet of all the planets. The typical exoplanet. And it is believed to have refurbished our Solar System quite a bit by moving around. Stealing a Pluto sized comet on the way, the moon seen orbiting Neptune at high inclination.

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!