Venus, Antares put on an early show

2013-10-10T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:46:28Z Venus, Antares put on an early showBy Tim Hunter Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The early evening sky with dazzling Venus continues to be very interesting.

Look toward the southwest at 6:30 tonight to see ever brilliant Venus 16 degrees above the horizon. Venus sits very close to the star Dschubba at the head of Scorpius the Scorpion. Look at them with low power binoculars.

Dschubba (also known as Delta Scorpii) is the middle star of the three stars that compose the head of Scorpius. In recent years it has had erratic changes in brightness and sometimes is the second brightest star in Scorpius after Antares in the heart of Scorpius.

In the early evening Scorpius is stretched out along the horizon with its head directly southwest and its tail and stinger toward the south. At 6:30 p.m., Mercury and Saturn will be very low on the horizon and to the right (north) of Venus (in that order, respectively). They will be difficult to see being in the twilight and low on the horizon. Try to find them with binoculars. Also look higher up more toward the south to see the 6-day-old moon above Sagittarius the Archer.

Every evening look at Venus after sunset and watch it move to the east through Scorpius. It will get within 1ƒ degrees of Antares by Wednesday. Antares is a red supergiant star far brighter and larger than the sun. It is the 15th brightest star in the sky and is 550 light-years away. Antares’ nuclear fuels deep in its interior are nearly exhausted. Once they are gone — tomorrow or a million years from now — Antares will die with a massive supernova explosion. It would be too far away to hurt us, but what a sight that will be.

Contact Tim Hunter at skyspy@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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