continued from Starlit Sky: 17. Libra

Today we will talk about a very beautiful constellation. It is one of the most easily identified ones in the night sky. As easy as Orion, the hunter. The constellation we are talking about is Scorpius. It lies to the east of Libra.




Scorpius is a big constellation that has many 1 and 2 magnitude stars. The group of stars give an impression of a scorpion with its long sting.Hence the name. Scorpius has been recorded by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy and it figures in 48 constellations that he wrote about.

Scorpius is called Vrischika raasi in the Indian Astronomical System.

The brightest star in this constellation is the Antares. It marks the heart/abdomen of the scorpion. This is a star that is distinctly red when seen with naked eye. This redness is similar to the red Mars. That is the reason why this star is named Antares, or a rival of Mars. It has a magnitute of 0.9 and is quite bright. It is a red supergiant and is one of the biggest stars known to man. It is about 550 light years away.

To give you an idea of how big Antares is, imagine this: put the Antares in place of the Sun in the Solar system. Antares will now occupy the space from the Sun right upto the planet Jupiter. That means, it has taken up the space of Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars and everything in between! Its shines 3000 times more brighter than the Sun!

Awesome, right!

Just like Betelgeuse (Arudra) of the Orion, Antares too will explode into a supernova some 10,000 years later. And when it does, it will shine as bright as the full moon and will be visible in daylight.

Antares is called Jeshta in the Indian Astronomical System. Jeshta means biggest. So the ancient Indian Astronomers had recognised that Antares was one of the biggest stars known to man. But, how did they do it without telescopes and the rest of the paraphernalia?

The star at the head of the scorpion, Dschubba is another bright star of the constellation. It has a magnitude of 2.32. It is called Anuradha in the Indian Astronomical System.

The 2nd brightest star in the Scorpius constellation is Shaula. It is at the tail of the scorpion. Shaula has a magnitude of 1.6. It is called Moola in the Indian Astronomical System.

Scorpius is also home to many deep sky objects like M4, M6, M7, M8 and M80



to be continued……