Triton is by far the largest of the planet Neptuneís thirteen known moons. It was discovered by a wealthy brewery business owner and amateur astronomer William Lassell. He was one of Englandís premier amateur astronomers of the 19th century, and used money from his brewery business to finance the expensive telescopes necessary to participate in his hobby much as adults today become involved in costly extra-career endeavors. He spotted Triton through one of these telescopes just days after Neptuneís official discovery in 1846. He also spotted a faint ring around the planet which was proven to be an optical illusion caused by a distortion in the lens of his telescope. While Neptune does have rings around it, they are far too faint for Lassell to have actually seen them.
Satellites, or moons, of Neptune are all named for minor
mythological Greek sea gods or nymphs. Triton was the son of the
Greek sea god, Poseidon (counterpart to the Roman sea god, Neptune).
It has the unique distinction of being the only large moon in the
solar system that orbits its planet in the opposite direction of
that planetís rotation. This is called a retrograde orbit. One side
of Triton faces the planet Neptune at all times. This is called a
synchronous rotation and is like the rotation of Earthís moon. The
orbit of this large satellite is close to the shape of a perfect
circle with almost no elliptical peculiarities.
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