Click on image for full size
Image courtesy European Southern Observatory.
New Moons of Uranus and Neptune
News story originally written on October 31, 2003
Astronomers have discovered new moons orbiting the planets Uranus and Neptune.
Counting the new moons, Uranus now has 27 moons that we know about. Neptune
has 13 that have been found so far. All of the newfound moons are small, having
than 100 km (60 miles).
Mark Showalter of Stanford University and NASA's Ames Research Center and
Jack Lissauer of Ames discovered two new moons of Uranus. Those moons have
been given temporary names: S/2003 U1 and S/2003 U2. The moons were found in
pictures taken by the Hubble
Space Telescope. Uranus has five large moons
named Ariel, Miranda, Oberon, Titania and Umbriel.
S/2003 U1 and S/2003 U2 are closer to Uranus than all of the large moons.
Scott Sheppard and David Jewitt discovered two
more moons of Uranus. Those moons are called S/2003 U3 and S/2001
U2 for now. Sheppard and Jewitt used a telescope on top of a volcano
in Hawaii to find these moons. S/2001 U2 has a big orbit and takes almost 8
years to go around Uranus!
Astronomers also found two new moons orbiting Neptune. Matthew Holman and
B. Gladman discovered S/2002 N4. Jewitt,
Sheppard and Jan Kleyna discovered S/2003 N1. These moons orbit very far from
Neptune. They are farther away from their "home" planet than any other moon
that has been found so far. They take about 25 years to go around Neptune once!
Some of the moons had been seen before in the last few years. To figure out
the orbit of a moon, astronomers need to see it a few times to know how it
moves. They don't count a moon as "discovered" until they are sure that it
orbits a planet.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Miranda was discovered by G. Kuiper in 1948. It has a standoff distance of 129,780 km. Miranda one of the smallest icy moons, and is as wide as the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco, being 47...more
Oberon was discovered by W. Herschel in 1787. It has a standoff distance of 582,600 km. Oberon is about as wide as the state of California is long, being 1520 km (1013 miles) in size. The surface features...more
Titania was discovered by W. Herschel in 1787. It has a standoff distance of 435,840 km. Titania is about as wide as the state of California is long, being 1580 km (1053 miles) in size. The surface features...more
Umbriel was discovered by W. Lassell in 1851. It has a standoff distance of 265,970 km. Umbriel is about as wide as the Oregon coast line, being 1170 km (780 miles) in size. The surface features of this...more
Astronomers have discovered twelve new moons of Jupiter so far in 2003. Jupiter now has a total of 52 moons that we know of. Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System, has more moons than any other...more
On August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars will be closer together than they have been in thousands of years. Mars will pass within 55,758,006 kilometers (34,646,418 miles) from Earth. Astronomers have calculated...more
Astronomers have recently discovered nine new moons. The astronomers found eight new moons of Jupiter and one new moon of Saturn. We now know of 60 moons orbiting Jupiter and 31 orbiting Saturn. The new...more
The planet Mercury appeared to cross in front of the Sun on May 7, 2003. Astronomers call the event a transit. A transit is like a solar eclipse. However, a transit occurs when a planet, instead of Earth's...more