Triangulum

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Triangulum
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Most of the night sky is populated with heroes, monsters, and even the tools of science. In a few cases, though, imagination failed the folks who named the constellations.

An example is Triangulum. The skinny triangle is wedged between four bigger constellations with big stories, including Andromeda the princess and Perseus the hero. The triangle, though, has no real story at all.

It is one of the older constellations, though. It dates back to ancient Greece. The Greeks named the star pattern for its resemblance to the capital letter “delta.” At various times it’s been compared to the delta of the Nile River, and to the island of Sicily.

None of Triangulum’s three stars is all that prominent. The brightest of them is Beta Trianguli. It’s so faint that, from a light-polluted city, you might not see it at all.

Beta Trianguli is about 127 light-years away. It consists of two stars. They’re so close together, though, that even the biggest telescopes can’t see them individually — their light blurs together into a single point.

The system’s main star is about three and a half times as massive as the Sun. And it’s nearing the end of its life, so it’s puffing up. Millions of years from now, it’ll shine much brighter — making the triangle stand out.

For now, if you have a dark sky, look for Triangulum well up in the east at nightfall. The wedge aims to the right, with Beta Trianguli at the top left point.

We’ll have more about Triangulum tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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