Oct
05
2007

Endless summer: Neptune’s hot spot isn’t at the equator

Hot spot: The south pole of Neptune is warmer than the rest of the planet, at least right now, because its orbit is so large and slow. That portion of the planet has summer for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Hot spot: The south pole of Neptune is warmer than the rest of the planet, at least right now, because its orbit is so large and slow. That portion of the planet has summer for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Here on Earth, our coldest spots are on the poles. But go to Neptune and you’re singing a whole new tune.

Scientists have found that one of the coldest planets in our solar system has an unusual hot spot: its south pole. But don’t break out the sunscreen, swimsuits and sunglasses too fast.

Temperatures at Neptune’s south pole are about 18 degrees warmer than any other part of the planet, but the average temperature on the planet is 320 degrees below zero. And you thought Minnesota winters are harsh. An international team of astronmers just announced their temperature findings from the planet.

So why the difference?

Neptune’s south pole has been receiving summer sunlight for about 40 years. It’s mostly a function of how slow seasons change in a planet orbiting so far from the sun.

The planet is 2.8 billion miles from the sun. One Neptune year -- the time that it takes to make one complete orbit of the sun – is about 165 Earth years. Currently it’s south pole is in position for the perpetual sunshine, but that will all change in another 80 years or so, when the pole is in its winter position.

The frigid temperatures are the result of the Neptune getting just 1/900th the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth. So you probably can leave the sunscreen at home if you ever head that way.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Pyrite Laverto's picture
Pyrite Laverto says:

Neptune is a part of the gassy giant catergory following with Uranus,Saturn,and Jupiter.

posted on Sun, 11/11/2007 - 8:53pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options