Forget April Showers This Month Brings Rare Jupiter Triangle

first_imgStay on target NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System As long as there have been stars in the sky, there have been people, animals, and mythological creatures watching over us.But not every constellation is a complicated contour of arms and legs and wings and tails. Some are simple as a triangle.“The sky abounds in this particular shape,” Joe Rao, astronomy lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium, wrote in a blog. “It’s the easiest of all to visualize, since only three stars are needed to form it.”The most famous of these celestial triptychs: the Summer Triangle, a roughly isosceles pattern composed of Altair, Deneb, and Vega—the brightest stars in the constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.Come mid-June, the asterism should be visible by nightfall, and will be a “prominent fixture” through September, according to Rao.In a year of cosmic anomalies—January’s “super blue blood moon“/total lunar eclipse, followed by two full moons in March—it’s no surprise that the sunny season will deliver yet another planetary aberration.Step outside around 11 p.m. this week and, facing east-southeast, look for a similar isosceles shape, formed by bright stars Arcturus and Spica—and the planet Jupiter.The so-called “Jupiter Triangle” (named by Rao, since the gas giant is the brightest of all three points) appears to point northeast, with Arcturus at the vertex; Spica and Jupiter form the two bottom points.Unlike its famous-and-fixed summer counterpart, though, this triangle will be in “a constant state of flux,” the astronomer said.For about a month, Jupiter has been undergoing a retrograde (backward) motion, shifting closer to Spica. In July, however, the planet will resume its regularly scheduled passage, backing away from the bluish star and eventually “disappear[ing] into the sunset glow” of November.Your best chances of glimpsing the transcendental trinity this month come on the evenings of April 28 and 29, when the moon will pass across the lower half of the triangle.This phenomenon will reappear when Jupiter passes through this part of the sky again in 2030.center_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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