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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Moon near fiery Antares August 6 and 7

Ah! Watch for the moon near fiery Antares on the evenings of August 6 and 7, 2022. They’ll be a stirring sight. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

Moon near fiery Antares August 6 and 7

First quarter moon was on August 5, and now the moon is in a waxing gibbous phase: more than half lighted but less than full. The moon will be bright in our sky as evening falls. On the evenings of August 6 and 7, 2022, you’ll find the bright moon near fiery Antares, the Heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.

Notice Antares’ red color and rapid twinkling!

The name Antares – brightest star in Scorpius – means “rival to Ares,” Ares being the Greek name for the Roman war god Mars. Antares is similar in color and brightness to Mars, when Mars is at its best, as it was in 2016. Astrophotographer Alan Dyer captured red Mars (above) and red Antares (below) that year, from Coonabarabran, Australia. At that time, Mars was brighter than Antares! Also, see the white “star” to the left of the 2 “rivals?” That’s the planet Saturn. Image via Alan Dyer / Used with permission.

Antares is red

Any red-looking star that you can see with the unaided eye is either a red giant or red supergiant star. Antares is a red supergiant.

Antares, which is in the autumn of its years, is expected to explode as a supernova one of these days.

No telling when that’ll happen, though. It could happen tomorrow or a million years from now.

Antares is big

Antares lies way out there, some 600 light-years distant. But this star easily shines at 1st-magnitude brightness. In order to beam so brightly in our sky, this star must be extremely luminous, that is, intrinsically very brilliant as opposed to merely appearing bright because of a nearer distance.

Antares’ red color indicates a relatively cool surface temperature, and cool stars shine less brilliantly than hot stars of the same size. But Antares is just so big. Its sheer size makes this star more luminous than many stars with higher surface temperatures.

If Antares replaced the sun in our solar system, its circumference would extend beyond the orbit of the fourth planet, Mars. In this illustration, Antares is shown in contrast to another star, Arcturus, and our sun. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Antares is the Scorpion’s Heart

Scorpius the Scorpion is one of the few constellations that looks like the creature for which it was named. In a dark-enough sky (say, a suburban sky), you’ll easily spot a curved line of stars arcing down toward your horizon: the Scorpion’s Tail. Antares isn’t in the Tail, though. This bright red star – beloved around the world – represents the Heart of the Scorpion.

In a truly dark sky, after the moon has moved away, you’ll find Antares and Scorpius near the starry band of the Milky Way.

View larger. | Constellation Scorpius by Daniel McVey. The bright red star Antares represents the Scorpion’s Heart. The Scorpion’s Stinger stars – Shaula and Lesath – can be found at the end of the Scorpion’s curved Tail.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

Bottom line: Watch for the moon near fiery Antares on the evenings of August 6 and 7, 2022. They’ll be a stirring sight!


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