Dawn Trio

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Dawn Trio

There’s a logjam in the southeastern sky at dawn right now. Three planets huddle within a few degrees of each other. And they’ll stay close for a couple of weeks.

The brightest member of the trio is Venus — the “morning star.” It far outshines every other planet and star in the night sky, so you can’t miss it.

On the other hand, you might not realize that it’s a planet — at least not at first glance. It’s so bright that people often mistake it for an airplane with its landing lights turned on. And it’s sometimes reported to authorities as a UFO. If you watch it for a minute or two, though, you’ll see that it doesn’t move compared to the other lights around it.

Venus does move from day to day, though. Right now, it’s dropping toward the Sun in our sky, so it’s changing position relative to the other two planets.

Tomorrow, for example, Mars is close to the right or lower right of Venus. It’s less than one percent as bright as Venus, but its proximity to Venus will help it stand out. At the same time, Saturn is a little farther to the lower left of Venus, and shines a little brighter than Mars.

Over the coming days, Venus will slide away from Mars and pass by Saturn. They’ll be at their closest early next week. After that, Venus will continue dropping toward the Sun, while Mars and Saturn climb away from it. Saturn will pass Mars in a couple of weeks, when they’ll form a tight pairing — continuing the logjam in the dawn sky.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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