DR. SKY BLOG

Summer monsoon will bring Antares star to Arizona’s skies

Jun 7, 2018, 11:01 AM
(Flickr/Stephen Rahn)...
(Flickr/Stephen Rahn)
(Flickr/Stephen Rahn)

Our Arizona skies will once again be filled with many stars, both bright and faint, upon the return of the new moon of June 13.

Get set to view some exciting objects in the sky, just before the start of the annual summer monsoon, which gets going around June 15 or so.

With clear and dark skies, you have an amazing opportunity to view a classic red super-giant star, located deep in the zodiac constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion.

Many of you are all too familiar with the pesky little arthropod, which may inhabit your home or office, but the constellation of Scorpius is a very good replica in the sky of this little land lobster looking creature with a stinger.

Scorpius is one of the original 48 constellations identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century.

Comparison between the red supergiant Antares and the Sun. (Wikimedia Photo)

Scorpius is one of the brightest constellations in the night sky and can be best seen by looking due South at local midnight, under clear and moonless skies. We get that opportunity once again, on the nights of June 13-20.

In Greek mythology, the goddess hunter Artemis placed the scorpion in the sky, after it was sent to kill Orion, after he boasted that he would kill every animal on Earth. In that battle, Orion is said to have lost.

Deep in the heart of Scorpius is the bright red super-giant star, Antares, known as the “Rival of Mars” due to its red-orange color.

Antares is an amazing star; as you look at it in our Arizona skies, it is about 620 light years from Earth. The light you see tonight, left the star back in 1398.

With 12 times the mass of our Sun, Antares is large in size. Its radius would reach out well beyond the orbit of Mars and appear as a red glowing orb of immense size.

An exact size for Antares is hard to determine, due to its distance and it having a tenuous and translucent nature. The star is so massive that it is a serious candidate to one day become a supernova itself.

Antares has a companion star which looks blue-green in color, which is very close to the primary star. Antares B was discovered by Johann Burg in 1819.

Antares lies very close to the ecliptic path of the Moon and planets and the Moon occults Antares with some regularity during the year.

Even more amazing, is the fact that planets, like Venus, can eclipse Antares and they are among the rarest of astronomical events.

The last time that Venus, eclipsed Antares, was back on Sept. 25, 525 BC and the next one will occur on Nov. 17, 2400.

Antares is also a variable star, which changes its luminosity over a long period of time and is the 15th brightest star in our skies.

Antares is one large star, which is near the end of its life.

As we enter the summer of 2018, take a good look at this amazing constellation, located in the rich star clouds of the Milky Way. You will not be disappointed!

To print your very own June 2018 star chart, click here. To view satellites and dates and times of passage, click here.

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Summer monsoon will bring Antares star to Arizona’s skies