On this day in 1846, Johann Gottfried Galle discovered Neptune.
You know how, when you’re flipping channels in your hotel room, and you land on an episode of The Cosby Show, it’s the same episode of The Cosby Show you saw like five years ago when you were flipping channels in your hotel room? The one where Rudy finds the baby bird, right? Yeah, me, too.
It’s the same with the “On this day in history…” thing. On this day in history, some scientist discovered a planet. Every time. Could be Venus. Could be Neptune. But it’s always a planet discovery and those guys always have three names.
I took a terrific astronomy course at the University of Chicago. (I’m taking a leave of absence from pursuing my MLA at the moment, obviously.) I learned about red shift and wrote my term paper on Pluto’s demotion, and I went to Fermilab and everyone got a little colder because the universe is expanding. It was great, but we didn’t spend any time on Neptune. Since today is Neptune’s sorta-birthday, I thought I’d find out a few things about it.
FACT: The most violent weather in our solar system is on Neptune. It’s bananas up there.
FACT: Fourteen moons. (Do you think our human experience would be significantly different if Earth had a handful more moons? Like, culturally speaking?)
FACT: It doesn’t appear that anyone who could go (read: astronauts) is planning to visit Neptune anytime soon. Neptune has made no comment, but that could be because its just trying to keep warm.