Beginning Friday the 13th, four planets will form equilateral triangle
Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2001
Around 4:30 a.m. local time on Friday, July 13th, Venus, Saturn, and the red star Aldebaran will form a compact equilateral triangle hovering 25 degrees above the eastern horizon. How high is that? If you hold your clenched fist at arm's length it spans an angle about 10 degrees wide. So, you can find the celestial threesome about two and a half "fists" above the horizon.
The brightest member of the grouping, Venus, is so brilliant it's often mistaken for an airplane or a UFO. But if you stare at Venus for a few moments you'll see it doesn't blink, twinkle, or move abruptly like a spacecraft -- it really is a planet! Venus glares so because it's close to Earth and its global clouds reflect much of the sunlight that falls on them. Yellow-hued Saturn is 10 times wider than Venus, but 50 times dimmer in Earth's night sky because Saturn lies in the outer solar system. Aldebaran, even more distant at 71 light years, is a giant reddish-colored star 40 times wider than the Sun that could swallow 40 billion Venus-sized planets. [More]
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