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Science in Brief

Neptune warmest at its south pole

September 22, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

An international team of astronomers said Tuesday that Neptune's south pole is about 18 degrees warmer than the rest of the planet -- not much when the average temperature is colder than 320 degrees below zero.

The apparent reason is that the pole has been in the summer sunlight for about 40 years.

Neptune is nearly 2.8 billion miles from the sun. A Neptunian year -- the time it takes to orbit the sun -- is equivalent to about 165 Earth years. Neptune gets only 1/900th of the sunlight Earth receives, but it still appears to have had a big effect.

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