Neptune is one of the two planets that cannot be seen without a telescope. The other is Pluto, but it is no longer considered a planet. Neptune is about 30 times as far from the sun as is Earth. Pluto is the only planet farther from the sun than Neptune. But every 248 years Pluto moves inside Neptune's orbit for about a 20-year period, during which it is closer to the sun than Neptune. Pluto last crossed Neptune's orbit on Jan. 23, 1979, and remained within it until Feb. 11, 1999. Neptune's diameter at the equator is 30,775 miles (49,528 kilometers), or almost 4 times that of Earth. It is about 17 times as massive (heavy) as Earth, but is not so dense as Earth. Neptune has 11 satellites (moons) and several rings around it. Neptune travels around the sun in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit. Its average distance from the sun is about 2,793,100 miles (4,495,060,000 kilometers). Neptune goes around the sun once about every 165 Earth years, compared with once a year for Earth. As Neptune orbits the sun, it spins on its axis, an imaginary line through its center. Neptune's axis is not perpendicular (at an angle of 90 degrees) to the planet's path around the sun. The axis tilts about 28 degrees from the perpendicular position. Neptune spins around once in about 16 hours and 7 minutes. The blue clouds of Neptune are mostly frozen methane, the main chemical in natural gas -- a fuel for heating and cooking on Earth. The other object shown is Neptune's moon Triton. Image credit: NASA/JPL LINK: http://www.optcorp.com/pdf/QSI/COMAPIReference.pdf