Lynch Stars Home

Astrophoto of the Month
Class Description
Class Schedule
Conjunction Junctions
Star Map
Starwatch Books
About Mike Lynch
Contact Mike
Telescope Guide
Mike's Favorite Links

The Scorpion of Summer

It's is a great place around here to spend the summer for the most part, but for stargazing it's too bad that we don't live a little farther south. If we did we could really enjoy the splendor of the great summer constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. It really looks like a scorpion, not that we have many around here to compare it with and that's a good thing. They're nocturnal, and they are nasty! One bit my sister in Texas, and it was no fun! The celestial scorpion won't bite us, but from our latitude it looks like it's tail and stinger are partially bit off!

This time of summer Scorpius is at its highest point in the southern sky as evening begins, but unfortunately thatís not all that high. The Scorpion takes a low southern track as it crawls west through the night. Much of the it stinger barely makes it above the horizon. In fact, unless you have a really low, flat, treeless southern horizon you have no chance of seeing Scorpiusís stinger. If you view the constellation from someplace like a farm field or a hilltop you'll have a much better view of the business end of the celestial scorpion. You'll know you're seeing in the stinger because it's made up of two moderately bright stars close together like cat's eyes.

The brightest star in Scorpius is Antares, positioned at the heart of the scorpion. Appropriately it has a dark red ruddy hue to it, but not because itís pumping blood to the beastís extremities. Actually it's what astronomers call a super red giant star, and that's what this behemoth star truly is. Our sun is a pipsqueak compared to Antares. The sun's diameter is less than a million miles across, but Antares spans a diameter of nearly 700 million miles! If you kicked the sun out of the center of our solar system and replaced it with Antares, the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars would be living inside Antares! While itís one of the brighter stars in our night sky it could be a lot brighter if it wasnít so far away. Taking a trip to Antares would require a journey of more than 3500 trillion miles!

Antares's reddish color is due to it being a relatively cooler star. Star colors are like the light in a fire. Red flames are relatively cooler than blue flames. Our own sun is considered a yellowish-white star with the temperature of its outer later, called the photosphere, at a little more than 10,000įF. Antares is cooler at just under 6000įF.

Diagram of SCORPIUS THE SCORPION...Click here