Hawaii Keck Observatory Captured a Photos of Uranus and Neptune in Infrared

Hawaii Keck Observatory captured a photos of  “ice giant” Uranus and Neptune which look like worlds aflame. To the naked eye, Neptune would appear blue and Uranus bluish-green. But Caltech astronomer Mike Brown snapped the new pictures in infrared light, using Keck’s adaptive optics system. So the two planets blaze reddish-orange, like embers glowing in the dark night of deep space. Two shots show bright streaks on Neptune, which is about 17 times as massive as Earth and orbits 30 times farther from the sun than our planet does. These streaks represent high-altitude clouds that are reflecting a lot of light. One image captures Neptune along with its largest moon, Triton, which is about 80 percent as big as Earth’s moon.

Other photos show Uranus which is 14.5 times as massive as Earth and orbits 19 times farther away than Earth does in a whole new light. The pictures highlight Uranus’ rings. According to Mike Brown the rings are faint and really tough to see and not even discovered until moderately recently, but Uranus is so dark at these wavelengths that the rings are quite easy to see.