By Peter Becker
Shining with red-orange light, the star Antares is well placed in the southeastern- southern evening sky as July begins.
As seen from mid-northern America, Antares rides relatively low in the sky. It marks the fiery heart of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.
This is one off the few constellations that can easily be traced to somewhat resemble what our imagination says it should be. A group of stars a little higher and to the right of Antares represent the "claws." A curving line of easily seen stars to the lower left of Antares mark the body and tail.
Antares is a red super-giant star. If it replaced the Sun, it would engulf the orbit of Earth as well as Mercury, Venus and Mars. The star is approximately 550 light years away; its starlight you see tonight left Antares that many years ago.
Be sure to see the "Cat Eyes" which are actually two stars quite close together and of similar magnitude, near the end of the tail. Look in binoculars for their contrasting blue and yellow hues.
Backyard telescope users enjoy finding a couple bright globular star clusters and other celestial delights in the region. With a telescope or even binoculars, Antares stands out brilliantly, like a glowing ember.
If the sky is dark and clear of haze and there is little light pollution, you will notice a broad region of the Milky Way in Scorpius and to the left in the adjacent constellation Sagittarius. The view is outstanding from a rural area in the tropics, where the southern stars and this area of the Milky Way are viewed much higher. You are looking towards the bright, hazy hub of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Last quarter Moon is on June 30.
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Keep looking up!