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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Earthsky Tonight, January 10, 2010: Moon by Scorpion’s heart

The Moon and Antares
The Moon and Antares

Monday morning – an hour or two before sunrise – the moon will shine right next the heart star of the constellation Scorpius. Find the waning crescent moon in the southeastern sky. Then look for the nearby reddish star. If you can’t see Scorpion’s heart with the eye alone, try binoculars.

That is Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius. This ruddy gem represents the Scorpion’s beating heart. Antares is not as red as a fire engine or a tomato. To me, it is more like a faint ketchup-stain red. Antares is 16th brightest star in the night sky. A star this bright – and this close to the horizon – is bound to sparkle. Although you can’t see it, Antares has companion star, called Antares B. This companion is blue in color. Can you imagine living on a planet that has a blue and a red sun?

Speaking of red, the moon may have an orange tinge when you see it near the horizon. That’s because – at such times – you are looking through a greater thickness of atmosphere than when the moon is higher in the sky.

Written by Kelley Knight Heins

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