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There are 14 known moons that orbit Neptune as of today.
Many of Neptune's moons were actually discovered in 1989 by a NASA spacecraft called Voyager 2. Triton is considered as Neptune's largest moon with Proteus and Nereid coming in at second and third.
Neptune is one of the eight planets found in the solar system and is also the planet that is farthest from the sun. This planet was discovered in 1846 through mathematical calculations and was observed to have a prominent ring and moons around it. Till 1989, the only known moons of Neptune were Triton and Nereid. Triton is the only large moon in the solar system with a retrograde orbit. This means that Triton's orbit around Neptune goes in a direction opposite to Neptune's own rotation! This was found by a British astronomer named William Lassel in 1846. As a result of this discovery, many theorists and scientists claim that Neptune's moon Triton might be a captured body that didn't originally orbit around the planet. Thankfully, with the help of satellites and NASA's spacecraft, Voyager 2, Triton was found to have many more remarkable properties that have caught the eye of many scientists, researchers, and space fanatics. Triton is the only satellite in our solar system to have a surface that is made completely out of nitrogen ice or a 'water ice' crust and the backward moving moon of Neptune also has a core of metal and rock. The orbit of Neptune's largest moon is tilted more than 157 degrees to Neptune's equator. In comparison to Earth's moon, Triton is slightly smaller and also has active volcanoes that erupt like geysers, giving out nitrogen frost over its surface! Since the discovery of Neptune and its 14 known moons, many space experts believe that the inner moons might be younger than the planet or might have been formed after Neptune captured its largest moon, which is Triton.
Proteus is the next second-largest moon of Neptune and was a surprise to its discoverers because of its size. It was discovered with the help of NASA's spacecraft Voyager 2 and was observed to have an extremely odd shape. Proteus is a moon that is shaped somewhat like a box and if it had a bit more mass to it, Proteus could pass for a sphere. It is suspected the Proteus might collide into Neptune's atmosphere or break into a ring if tidal forces take the moon apart. Nereid is another moon of Neptune that was discovered through the telescope in 1949 by a Dutch-American astronomer named Gerard Kuiper. Nereid is much smaller than Triton that the 1989 Voyager 2 was able to capture only distant blurry images of the moon as it flew by. Through extensive study and research, NASA scientists believe that Nereid is a captured asteroid or a potential Kuiper Belt Object since the moon's orbit is eccentric. The inner moons or first seven moons of Neptune are regular moons with regular orbits. Larissa, Despina, Triton, Proteus, Nereid, Hippocamp, Halimede, Sao, Neso, Laomedeia, Psamathe, Galatea, Thalassa, and Naiad are the names of Neptune's moons. These moons are also smaller in size compared to Triton's large size! The two moons Neso and Psamathe have similar orbits, taking around 25 years to orbit around Neptune. This makes the two moons have the largest orbits of any other natural satellites in the solar system!
Neptune is one of the most distant planets from the sun and because of this distance, very few exploratory missions have been carried out to the planet. Nonetheless, with the help of satellites and spacecraft, many space lovers and scientists have been able to learn more about the planet.
The farthest planet in our solar system away from the sun is known to have 13 moons originally. However, in 2013, another moon of Neptune was discovered named Hippocamp. Therefore, today, there are 14 moons of Neptune that are recognized by space experts. Initially, Triton and Nereid were the only moons that were known to man. With the help of NASA's Voyager 2, which was launched into space in 1989, Neptune's other moons were also discovered. The names of all Neptune's moons have been derived from sea nymphs of Greek mythology. Larissa, Despina, Triton, Proteus, Nereid, Hippocamp, Halimede, Sao, Neso, Laomedia, Psamathe, Galatea, Thalassa, and Neid. Triton is not only Neptune's largest moon but also the largest moon in the solar system! It has a retrograde orbit where it moves around Neptune in a direction that is opposite to the planet's own rotation. Triton is also a moon with a thin atmosphere. Scientists, researchers, and experts say that with new advancements in the technology of telescopes, more moons of Neptune will be discovered.
The moon of Neptune can be characterized as regular moons or irregular moons. The first seven inner moons of Neptune are seen as regular moons that have normal circular prograde orbits around the planet of Neptune.
The other moons are considered to be irregular as their orbit around the planet is widely eccentric. The names of all Neptune's moons have been derived from sea creatures of Greek mythology. Larissa, Despina, Triton, Proteus, Nereid, Hippocamp, Halimede, Sao, Neso, Laomedia, Psamathe, Galatea, Thalassa, and Neid. Out of all these moons, Triton is the largest and also has a retrograde orbit where it moves around Neptune in a direction that is opposite to the planet's rotation.
While astronomers saw the 14th moon of Neptune as a very faint and dark spot, proper observation through the Hubble space telescope confirmed that it definitely was one of the many moons that belonged to the planet of Neptune. This was how the 14th moon of Neptune was discovered.
The moon was named Hippocamp after the Greek mythological Greek deity and its orbit lie between Neptune and its largest moon, Triton. Hippocamp is a tiny satellite and although the Hubble space telescope was only able to snap pictures of a tiny dot that reflected in 2004, it was only in 2013 that the moon was finally discovered and confirmed after a lot of research and study by astronomers and scientists. Initially, the planet was given a provisional moniker called S/2004 N1 and then this was changed to Hippocamp.
Uranus and Neptune are two planets in the solar system that many people get confused about due to their size, color, atmosphere, and water-ice insides. Although, these two planets are similar superficially, Uranus and Neptune are very different from each other.
Uranus and Neptune are giant ice planets that lie deep and far from the sun in the solar system. As a result, the moons of these two planets are subject to radiation darkening. Radiation darkening refers to optical materials that darken when exposed to radiation that is ionizing. This darkening happens when holes or electrons are trapped or caught inside inherent defect sites or in new defect sites that are created by ionizing radiation. The same principle applies to the rings of both Neptune and Uranus. They are very dark and are made up of organic compounds that have been greatly exposed to radiation in space. The phenomenon is very different from the icy rings we can see around Saturn which are clear to the eye.
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