18. The fascinating story of the discovery of Neptune

The history of science is full of great stories of human endeavour and ingenuity. One of my favourites is the story of the discovery of Neptune, the eight planet of our Solar System. If you don’t know the story, you should read it. The position of Neptune was independently deduced by JC Adams in England and U Leverrier in France by observing anomalies in the precession of Uranus and, based on them, deducing the position where Neptune should be. Incredible use of meticulous observation and complex mathematics, confirmed by Galle by pointing the Fraunhofer telescope in Berlin to the point where the maths predicted a new planet should be. The story makes you realise how much humans can accomplish with time and determination. The observations must have been truly painstaking with the technology of the day, and the calculations hugely complex. An amazing achievement 


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