The Rings of Neptune

The Rings of Neptune
From NASA's Planetary Photojournal
These two 591-second exposures of the rings of Neptune were taken with the clear filter by the Voyager 2 wide-angle camera on Aug. 26, 1989 from a distance of 280,000 kilometers (175,000 miles). The two main rings are clearly visible and appear complete over the region imaged. The time between exposures was one hour and 27 minutes. [During this period the bright ring arcs in the outer bright ring were not visible in either picture as they were on the opposite side of the planet for each exposure).] Also visible in this image is the inner faint ring at about 42,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) from the center of Neptune, and the faint band which extends smoothly from the 53,000 kilometer (33,000 miles) ring to roughly halfway between the two bright rings. Both of these newly discovered rings are broad and much fainter than the two narrow rings. These long exposure images were taken while the rings were back-lighted by the sun at a phase angle of 135 degrees. This viewing geometry enhances the visibility of dust and allows fainter, dusty parts of the ring to be seen. The bright glare in the center is due to over-exposure of the crescent of Neptune. The two gaps in the upper part of the outer ring in the image on the left are due to blemish removal in the computer processing. Numerous bright stars are evident in the background. Both bright rings have material throughout their entire orbit, and are therefore continuous.
Image Title: The Rings of Neptune
Catalog #: PIA01997
Target Name: Neptune Rings
Spacecraft: Voyager 2

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