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This Week: View Scorpius, the Scorpion

This Week: View Scorpius, the Scorpion

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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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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