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Venus meets a new companion, George

Sky watching is one ?star-studded? exercise that everybody loves to indulge in. And among the visible planets within the constellations, Venus is the most captivating.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 11:20 IST

Sky watching is one ‘star-studded’ exercise that everybody loves to indulge in. And among the visible planets within the constellations, Venus is the most captivating.

And now, the Earth’s twin has a new companion, in the sky of course, planet George that will soon be visible alongside Venus. George is the sixth planet that is visible without using a telescope, George. It is not that bright, but it is there, glowing like an aqua-blue star.

It measures four times wider than Earth, has more than 30 moons and now, a dozen or so thin rings. It goes around the sun every 84 years. George is better known as Uranus.

When William Herschel had discovered the planet in 1781, he first named it George in honour of his patron, King George III. Later, to the delight of schoolchildren, it was re-named Uranus, the Greek god of the sky.

In modern times, Uranus has become all but impossible to see. The planet is naturally faint, and urban lights wipe it out completely. Nevertheless, you can see it this month and Venus will guide to it.

On April 17th, 18th and 19th, Venus and Uranus are going to have a close encounter in the dawn sky. Simply look east before sunrise. Venus can easily be made out; it is the brightest celestial object in the sky.

Simply scan Venus with a pair of binoculars and you’ll see Uranus right beside it. If the sky is very dark, you may be able to lift your eyes from the optics and see Uranus directly, in a greenish-blue tinge.