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name with simble Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto and beyond
Mercury Venus Our Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto and beyond

© Don Dixon, Cosmographica
Painting by Don Dixon, Cosmographica

Stormy Methane Weather

The fastest winds in the solar system propel huge storms through Neptune’s frigid deep-blue methane atmosphere.

Distant Ice

Neptune’s windy atmosphere is speckled with huge dark spots that appear and disappear. One large moon and a swarm of smaller ones orbit the planet.

Inside the Gas Giants

© NASA/NSSDC Image Catalog
The outer solar-system worlds may be gas giants at their surfaces, but inside they are really gas-slush planets. Each has a solid core, layers of ice, and frigid oceans of liquid hydrogen. We see only the tops of their thick atmospheres, which have swirling clouds and huge storms.

A Cantaloupe Moon

© NASA/JPL/Universities Space Research Association/Lunar & Planetary Institute
Triton is a study in ice volcanism. It is one of the coldest places in the solar system, with a grooved surface of melted and refrozen ice that looks like cantaloupe skin. Geysers spout nitrogen gas plumes across the frigid landscape.

Gravity’s Relentless Force

Gravity holds the solar system together. The Sun, which has the strongest gravita-tional pull, keeps all the planets, asteroids, and comets in orbit. In turn, planets tug on one another and their moons. Neptune was discovered when astronomers noticed that something was disturbing the orbit of Uranus (diagram left). The moon Triton (smaller object below) was captured by Neptune’s gravitational pull and diverted into orbit around the planet.