RASC Regular Meeting
Sep 12, 2011
The Discovery of Neptune

20110912_neptune_voy2“The discovery of the planet Neptune on September 23, 1846, is justly famed as a triumph of reason, hard work, and the brilliant application of celestial mechanics” (ref) and one of the most remarkable discoveries in the entire history of science, let alone the history of astronomy. It also sparked an intense and hard fought controversy over who should get credit that led to acrimonious exchanges between British, French and American astronomers and wrecked the reputation of the then Astronomer Royal, George Airy. So with Neptune having just completed it’s first circuit of the sky since it’s discovery it was a timely moment to look back on these remarkable events.

On September 12, Dr. Robert Smith of the Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta gave a talk on the discovery of Neptune. He spoke about  the lively story of the twists and turns that eventually led to the eight planet’s discovery. After the meeting, we had hoped to open the Observatory and have a look at Neptune, but clouds foiled us.