June 21, 2024

We are now well into May, and the moon is full and on its way to conjunction with the beautiful red jewel of Antares.

From London it’s a very close connection – the graph shows the view looking south-east on 23 May 2024 at 22:00 BST. The moon’s visible surface will be 99.5% illuminated and will virtually rise with Antares.

To enjoy the spectacle, find the lowest southeastern horizon you can and watch the moon rise. As the night progresses, the double will rise higher in the sky and the moon will gradually move away from the star.

Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion. A red giant star, its radius is more than 650 times the size of the sun. Its color indicates a relatively low surface temperature, hovering around 3,600 K (3,327 C).

It is about 550 light years from Earth, which means that its light took 550 years to reach us, therefore we see the star as it looked more than half a millennium ago.

The moon, on the other hand, is only 1.3 light seconds away, so we see it as it looked 1.3 seconds ago. The conjunction will be visible around the world.

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