Who Discovered Triton?
A month after Neptune was discovered by German astronomers Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d’Arrest, Neptune’s moon Triton (pronounced Try-tun), caught the eye of British astronomer William Lassell on October 10, 1846.
By profession, Lassell was an expert brewer but also had a deep interest in astronomy. He began constructing his own telescope in 1820. After the discovery of Neptune, Lassell received a letter from John Herschel suggesting a search for Neptune’s moons. Neptune was discovered by German astronomers on September 23, 1846 and within 17 days, Lassell discovered Triton, Neptune’s largest moon.
Neptune’s moon Triton is named after Poseidon’s son—the Greek equivalent of the Roman God Neptune. Almost all discovered moons of Neptune are named after the characters from Greek and Roman mythology. The name “Triton" was first proposed in 1880 by French astronomer and author Nicolas Camille Flammarion in his book Astronomie Populaire. However, the name was not adopted for several decades. Quite interestingly, Triton was simply known as the “satellite of Neptune" until 1949, when the second moon Nereid was discovered by Gerard P. Kuiper.
In a nutshell, it was the British astronomer William Lassell who discovered Triton the largest moon of Neptune in 1846 and the name “Triton" was first suggested by French astronomer Nicolas Flammarion in 1880.