Saturday, August 07, 2010

Huge Triangle in the sky.

Starting tonight and continuing for the
next couple of weeks there will be a rare chance to observe three of the brightest planets without a telescope . If you have clear skies, and a view to the west-northwest you will be able to Venus, Mars and Saturn together in a tight cluster. When and Where to Look

Unlike many of the stellar displays you won't need to stay up all night nor awake at 3am to enjoy it. About an hour to hour and a half after sunset is hen the planet trio will be in view. Any later and they will have dropped below the
horizon and out of view.

Astronomers measure the brightness of objects in the sky using a standard yardstick called magnitude. The lower the number, the brighter the object, with the brightest stars in the sky categorized as either a zero or first magnitude.

So while Venus (dazzling at magnitude - 4.3) should be more than bright enough to see with the unaided eye in the fading twilight glow, Saturn (magnitude +1.1) and Mars (magnitude +1.4) will likely be a bit more difficult. Indeed, although Saturn and Mars are of first magnitude, they appear only about 1/150th as bright as Venus!

Personally, I would strongly suggest also using binoculars to scan the sky for the three planets, especially if it is still hazy like it has been the last few days.

The peek for this event will be tonight and tomorrow but they may still be seen for about two more weeks.

Hold your fist at arm's length. This will be about a 10-degree circle all three should appear well within that area. Look about a fist and 1/2 above the horizon at the begining lower as the time passes

Good luck

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