Saturn, Mars and Venus will shine in twilight through mid-August

     Mid-August will be a treat for sky gazers, as Saturn, Mars and Venus come into view just as twilight begins to fade out. "Venus will leap out at you. Saturn and Mars are fainter, so you may need to wait for the sky to darken a bit more before they glimmer into view," said Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine. Saturn and Mars will spend the week sliding to the right with respect to Venus, creating a planetary triangle that changes shape from day to day. The crescent Moon joins the twilight planet scene on Thursday, August 12th (when it's below Venus) and Friday the 13th (when it's left of Venus). Venus shines much brighter due to its close proximity to us, and Mars and Saturn look similar in brightness for reasons that cancel out. Saturn is 35 times larger than Mars, but it's much farther both from us and from the Sun. "Don't miss this chance to do some easy astronomy from your backyard, balcony, or rooftop," says Sky and Telescope editor in chief Robert Naeye. "It's a big universe, and planets await!"

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