Great Appearances

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Great Appearances
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Tomorrow’s dawn sky is packed with beautiful pairings. They involve the Moon, one bright star, and four brighter planets.

One pair is actually in view all night long. Jupiter and Saturn, the largest planets in the solar system, are low in the southeast as night falls, and in the southwest at dawn.

Jupiter is the giant of them all, and looks it. It’s putting in its best appearance of the year right now, so it shines at its brightest. Only the Moon and the planet Venus are brighter. Saturn, the Sun’s second-largest planet, trails along behind it. It’s only about a week away from its peak, so it, too, is shining brightly. We’ll have more about Jupiter tomorrow.

The second pair is the most obvious: the Moon and the planet Mars. They climb into good view by around 1:30 or 2, and are high in the sky at first light. Mars looks like a bright orange star to the upper right of the Moon. It’s headed toward its best appearance of the year in October, so it’s growing a tiny bit brighter with each passing day.

The final pair rises not long before dawn, and is in the southeast as twilight begins to paint the sky. It consists of Venus, the “morning star,” and Aldebaran, the star that marks the eye of Taurus, the bull. Aldebaran is one of the brighter true stars in the night sky. Yet it’s less than one percent as bright as Venus. But its proximity to the brilliant planet helps it stand out — one of three great pairings in the dawn sky.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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