WHAT HAPPENED ON - 23 September

September 23, 1846 CE – Astronomers Discover Neptune

September 23, 1846 CE – Astronomers Discover Neptune
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*Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After first being sighted in the night sky by Galileo in 1612, it took well over two centuries for scientists to determine the bright object near Jupiter in the famous Italian’s notes was not a star. Urbain Le Verrier and Johann Gottfried Galle, working together on the European continent, and John Couch Adams, making calculations independently in England, learned the heavenly body was actually the planet Neptune on September 23, 1846.

In the early 1600s, as Galileo first began to utilize the telescope to look to the heavens and describe what he observed, the lenses he had created offered too little magnification to see Neptune as much more than a small, shining blip. Fooled by the planet’s slow retrograde motion through the sky, he continued his work under the assumption it was a star. Alexis Bouvard, attempting to determine the orbits of the planets in 1821, realized the planet Uranus seemed to be swayed and theorized another large object nearby might be affecting it.

Two decades later, Adams focused his energies on the same issue. …(Read more)

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