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These three pictures show three newly discovered moons of Neptune!
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Courtesy of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Three New Moons Found Around Neptune!
News story originally written on January 14, 2003

A team of astronomers has discovered three new moons orbiting Neptune. That brings the total number of Neptune’s moons to 11!

The three moons were very difficult to see with ground-based telescopes because they are very small, only about 30-40 km (18-24 miles) across. Not only are they tiny, they are also dimly lit because they are so far from the Sun that they don’t shine very brightly. In fact, your eyes would have to be 100 million times better to see them without a telescope.

The astronomers were able to pick up the faint light from the moons by taking pictures with telescopes in Chile and Hawaii. They combined the images together and were able to see points of light where the moons were located.

Before their research, only 8 moons were known to orbit Neptune. The two largest, Triton and Nereid, were discovered with telescopes and the others were discovered by the Voyager probe.

According to Mathew Hollman, one of the leaders of the team of astronomers, “Tracking these moons is an enormous, international undertaking involving the efforts of many people. Without teamwork, such faint objects could be easily lost.”


Last modified January 16, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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