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New Theory: Galileo Discovered Neptune

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Author Topic: New Theory: Galileo Discovered Neptune  (Read 126 times)
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« on: July 10, 2009, 08:39:56 am »

Controversial discovery

Neptune, the farthest planet from the sun (assuming you don't count the recently demoted Pluto), is hard to spot even today. It is not visible to the naked eye. But this week, by coincidence, Neptune is well positioned near the easy-to-find Jupiter, making Neptune findable with binoculars or a small telescope.

Neptune's history of discovery has been controversial from the beginning.

Uranus had been discovered before Neptune, and observations suggest it was under the gravitational influence of another planet, farther out in the solar system, says Geoff Gaherty, who runs the Foxmead Observatory in Canada and writes skywatching articles for Starry Night Education and

"Predictions of the position of this new planet were made by [British mathematician] John Couch Adams in 1843 and [French mathematician] Urbain Le Verrier in 1845-1846, but both mathematicians had great difficulty in persuading any astronomer to actually look for the planet," Gaherty explains. "Finally on September 23, 1846, a German astronomer, Johann Gottfried Galle, used Le Verrier's chart to actually locate and observe Neptune. This led to a major controversy as to which country should be credited with the discovery; ultimately the honor was shared."
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