Night Sky News: Moon Meets Scorpion’s Heart

On Monday, July 11th look towards the southern sky for the Moon pairing up with bright orange star. credit: Courtesy of Starry Night Software

On Monday evening about an hour after your local sunset check out the waxing gibbous Moon hanging about halfway up the southern sky. Look closely just below it and you’ll notice a bright star. If the lunar glare is too bright to make out the star then try blotting out the disk of Moon with your thumb.

The lead star in the constellation Scorpius, Antares shines with a distinct orange hue and will make for a pretty contrasting pair with the silvery lunar orb. To the ancient Greeks this sparkly star looked so  similar in the sky to reddish Mars that they gave it the name Antares, which literally means ‘against Mars’.   Interestingly an old Arabic name of the star means Scorpion’s heart- which I think is quite befitting too when you look at its place in the sky within the cosmic arachnid.

Antares is the 16th brightest star int he entire night sky and is a monster – about 16 times the mass of our Sun. if we were to replace our Sun wiht Antares, the edge of its atmosphere would reach out to beyond the orbit of Mars.  When eyeing this pretty cosmic duo remember that their proximity is really just an illusion. While the Moon is a respectable 400,000 km from us, Antares sits an amazing 600 light years away from Earth!

 

Changing Planet

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.