Voyager 2 took the images used to produce this picture of the Neptunian system as it was outbound from the planet on 25 August, 1989. Cruising through the outer solar system, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune on August 25, 1989, the only spacecraft to visit the most distant gas giant. The image captures the planet and Triton as thin sunlit crescents. A close look shows cirrus clouds and a dark band circle Neptune’s south polar region, with a cloudy vortex above the pole itself. (Pole is just past 6:30 on the planet in this orientation.) Parts of the very faint ring system that was discovered during the Voyager 2 flyby are also visible. The background starfield is composed from sky survey data centered on the constellation Camelopardalis, corresponding to the outbound Voyager‘s point of view.
Image Credit: NASA
I wasn’t born yet to watch the moon landings, alas. However I do remember that my family had one of those huge satellite dishes back in the late 80’s, and most programming was not scrambled. I can remember watching the Neptune images as they came in and rebroadcast by Nasa.
I was riveted, not quite on par with watching a live moon landing, but you take what you can get.
I love this picture. Amazing.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the same photo composite that for the first time shows that Neptune may have a similar wind current pattern as Saturn. While far from definitive, it is interesting to note that after twenty years, new data is still being discovered in these old photographs.