Since You Asked: A rising star in the east

Every morning around 5:30 I see a very bright star rising in the east. I tried to find out what it was on the Internet and got conflicting information. It is probably a planet, but which one?

— Patti B., via e-mail

For this question, we consulted our resident Star Man, Richard Moeschl, who also puts out our Tempo section.

Moeschl tells us that if you're up before dawn right about now, take a look at the sky above the eastern horizon to see the "Morning Star," Venus.

Venus, of course is a planet and not a star, but it has been called the "Morning Star" since the time of the ancient Greeks. Venus is in the dim constellation of Cancer, (the Crab), but is moving nearer to the bright star Regulus in the constellation Leo (the Lion). Next to Regulus is the yellow-hued planet Saturn. Normally, planets like Venus and Saturn do not twinkle as stars like Regulus does. Venus, Regulus and Saturn will appear very close together by early October. Although with a name like Venus it sounds alluring, trust us, it may be a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there. Thanks to a thick greenhouse-like atmosphere, it's hot enough to melt lead day or night (and because it rotates very slowly, and "backward" at that, a Venus day lasts longer than its year of 225 Earth days!). That's according to online, a pretty good clearing house of space information and pictures.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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