The Disappearing Clouds on Neptune – and the Reason Why…

We tend to think of clouds as being an Earth-based phenomenon, but they also exist on other planets. On Neptune, the Solar System’s furthest planet from the Sun, cloud coverage appears to correlate with the 11-year solar cycle. The blue ice giant planet is usually covered in bands of white cloud, which become more frequent two years after the solar cycle’s peak, where the Sun’s activity increases. However, since 2019, the clouds have been disappearing, with latest imagery from the Keck II telescope showing clouds being found only on the planet’s southern pole. ‘This is extremely exciting and unexpected, especially since Neptune’s previous period of low cloud activity was not nearly as dramatic and prolonged,’ said Erandi Chavez, of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard-Smithsonian (CfA).

To discover more about this fascinating finding, you can read this article published on NASA’s website.

Observations of Neptune taken by the Hubble Space Telescope showing the waxing and waning of the planet’s cloud cover over the 11-year solar cycle, with 2020’s photograph showing less cloud cover than in previous years.

Images: NASA, ESA

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.