Face the southern horizon tonight after dusk and you can see the waxing gibbous Moon pointing the way to a brilliant orange coloured star known as Antares. If you have never seen this star before, this is a nice opportunity to track it down thanks to the Moon – Antares is a beauty as it sparkles near the horizon. It’s name means the ‘Rival of Mars’ since it reminded ancient astronomers of the Red planet, which looks very similar in the sky.
Despite Antares being located just over a whopping 600 light years from us it still ranks as the 16th brightest star in the entire sky. Astronomers classify it as a red super giant star – and for good reason. Antares’ shines 10,000 times brighter than our puny Sun and has a diameter that is truly monsterous- 800 times bigger than the Sun. Anteres is the lead star in the constellation Scorpius, which is a landmark for summer skywatchers. Over the course of the next couple of months, the Scorpion will rise a bit higher above the southern horizon in the evenings, making it an easier target to observe.
Tags: Antares, Scorpius
Posted in Constellations, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon, stars | 439 Comments »