Joe Bollinger writes from Glen Burnie: "What does the number +.5 mean with regard to a planet's magnitude?" The magnitude scale is a measure of an object's apparent brightness. Numbers run from negative digits (brightest), through zero, to positive digits (dimmest). The full moon is -12. Venus can reach -3.8. The North Star is a +2. The dimmest naked-eye objects visible under ideal conditions are +6.5.
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