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August 10, 2009

The newest pictures of Neptune

multiple exposure image of Despina eclipsing and transiting Neptune

This is why you never throw out scientific data. Nearly 20 years ago the Voyager II spacecraft zipped past Neptune, snapping images as it went. Planetary scientists pored over the pictures for a goodly number of years, and then went on to other things. But amateur space geek Ted Stryk got his mitts on the original digital data, did his own image analysis, and discovered several hitherto unnoticed images of the tiny (only 146 miles across) moon Despina passing in front of Neptune and casting its shadow on it. From those images Styrk stitched together this beautiful composite image.

See more images and read the details of how Styrk spotted Despina on the website of the Planetary Society.

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Posted by Chris Spurgeon at August 10, 2009 09:24 PM