Magazine article Natural History

Of Scorpions and Showers

Magazine article Natural History

Of Scorpions and Showers

Article excerpt

In July, the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion, is visible to early evening stargazers across most of North America. Those in the far northeastern states and Canada may not see the lowest part of the Scorpion's tail, but the constellation's most brilliant and interesting star, Antares, is well above the horizon.

At first glance, you might mistake this reddish star for the ruddy planet Mars, but notice that the star twinkles-something bright planets generally do not do. The ancient Greeks also noticed the resemblance between these two celestial bodies and named the star Antares, "rival of Ares" (Ares is the Greek equivalent of Mars). A star of exceptional dimensions, Antares' diameter is nearly 700 times that of the Sun and more than 75,000 times that of Earth; in other words, if the Earth were a baseball, a proportional Antares would be a ball more than three and a half miles in diameter. Among the bright stars, Antares is probably exceeded in size only by Betelgeuse. …

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