This Week: View Scorpius, the Scorpion

The most beautiful zodiacal constellation is low in the southern sky at dusk these summer evenings. Learn more.

The most beautiful zodiacal constellation is low in the southern sky at dusk: Scorpius, the Scorpion.  Scorpions have two large claws in front, but this one had his claws clipped.

The scorpion is a magnificent sight; best appreciated in a dark sky without any interference from bright moonlight. Scorpius really looks like a scorpion — a long stinging tail curled over its back.

One star in the constellation clearly outshines the others, with a fiery tinge emphasizing the scorpion’s sinister appearance: Antares, the so-called “rival of Mars,” Ares being Greek for “Mars.”

Antares is a supergiant, located 604 light years away, over 9,000 times as luminous as the Sun and 700 times as large. If our Sun were the size of a baseball, Antares would measure 169-feet across. Yet the overall density of Antares is less than one-millionth that of the Sun.

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Joe Rao

Joe Rao is an esteemed astronomer who writes for Space.com, Sky & Telescope, and Natural History Magazine. Mr. Rao is a regular contributor to the Farmers' Almanac and serves as an associate lecturer for the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

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