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October 10, 2016 - Neptune’s Poached Moon

Neptune’s Poached Moon  The largest moon of Neptune, and the seventh-largest moon in the solar system, Triton was first observed 170 years ago this week by William Lassell, an English amateur astronomer. At the time, Neptune itself had only been known about for seventeen days and was still called “Le Verrier’s planet,” after the French mathematician who correctly hypothesized its then-current position. An oddity among larger moons, Triton travels in a highly-tilted retrograde orbit around Neptune (in the opposite direction that the ice giant rotates). It also has a high density, and likely has a core of rock and solid metal beneath its water-and-nitrogen-ice crust. This leads scientists to believe that Triton originated in the Kuiper Belt, beyond Neptune, and was captured by Neptune’s gravity.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / USGS

Weekly Calendar

October 10-16, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 10

Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
Columbus Day

1846: William Lassell discovers Triton, moon of Neptune
1980: Very Large Array dedicated
1983: Venera 15 orbits Venus
2007: ISS Expedition 16 crew launched

Moon phase Tuesday 11

Yom Kippur begings at sunset

Mercury 0.9° north of Jupiter

1968: Apollo 7 launched
1969: Soyuz 6, 7 & 8 in space at once
1994
: Magellan mission ends
2000: STS-92 Discovery launched
2005: Shenzhou 6 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 12

1964: Voskhod 1 launched, first three-person space flight
1977: Shuttle Enterprise’s first glide test without aerodynamic tailcone
2008: ISS Expedition 18 crew launched

Moon phase Thursday 13

Neptune 1.2° south of Moon

1773: Charles Messier observes M-51
1933: British Interplanetary Society founded
1968: Apollo 7 first live TV broadcast from space
2004: ISS Expedition 10 crew launched

Moon phase Friday 14

1947: World’s first supersonic flight
1957: USAF announces X-20 Dyna-Soar project
1983: Venera 16 arrives in orbit around Venus

Moon phase Saturday 15

Uranus at opposition
Uranus 3°north of Moon

1829: Asaph Hall born
1997: Cassini-Huygens launched
2003: Shenzhou 5 launched, Yang Liwei becomes first Chinese astronaut

Moon phase Sunday 16

Full Moon 12:23 AM ET
Moon at perigee

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.