The last of the classical planets is Neptune. This image came from the Voyager 2 spacecraft.
The planet Uranus appears to be pretty much a featureless ball. Probably because the planet unlike the other gas giants lacks any substantial internal heat and the clouds don’t really billow above the upper haze layers.
We also view the planet from above the poles because the axial tilt of the planet is nearly 98 degrees! Check out our Uranus data for more on this most interesting planet and its moons which by the way has not been visited since the Voyager missions.
This image is from the Voyager 2 mission, credit: NASA/JPL
In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture. The associated Greek god, Cronus, was the son of Uranus and Gaia and the father of Zeus (Jupiter). Saturn is the root of the English word “Saturday” (see Appendix 5).
Saturn has been known since prehistoric times. Galileo was the first to observe it with a telescope in 1610; he noted its odd appearance but was confused by it. Early observations of Saturn were complicated by the fact that the Earth passes through the plane of Saturn’s rings every few years as Saturn moves in its orbit. A low resolution image of Saturn therefore changes drastically. It was not until 1659 that Christiaan Huygens correctly inferred the geometry of the rings. Saturn’s rings remained unique in the known solar system until 1977 when very faint rings were discovered around Uranus (and shortly thereafter around Jupiter and Neptune).
Following along in our planetary meme this week, today we come home.
This image was taken yesterday. You can see Cyclone Winston just left of center of the image.
Want to see more? Easy visit: DISCOVR:EPIC
Image: NASA / DISCOVR
Venus as seen by by the Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) on Venus Express. The (false color) image was captured from a distance of 30 000 km on 8 December 2011.
Mercury as seen by the Messenger spacecraft in this image taken in 2008.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington