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The Constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion
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Scorpius

More than any other constellation, Scorpius resembles its given name. It is located low in the south for northern latitudes, but passes high in the sky for viewers in the southern hemisphere. The bright star Antares marks the heart of the arachnid, and its long curving tail trails to the south. The scorpion once had claws, but they were severed by Julius Ceasar to form the constellation Libra.

Where stars are concerned, whatever you are looking for, you can probably find it in Scorpius. Antares is an unmistakable, brilliant red supergiant star at the heart of the scorpion. There are many open clusters, including the spectacular M7 roughly 5 degrees off the tip of the scorpion's tail. As it is nearby, M4 is one of the largest, brightest globular clusters in the sky, visible even with binoculars. As a bonus, it is especially easy to find since it is located only 1.5 degrees west of Antares.

The scorpion holds an infamous place in Greek mythology as the slayer of Orion. One story tells that Orion fled the scorpion by swimming the sea to the island of Delos to see his lover, Artemis. Apollo, seeking to punish Artemis, joined her and challenged her hunting skills, daring her to shoot the black dot that approached in the water. Artemis won the challenge, unknowingly killing her lover by doing so.

Last modified January 21, 2010 by Julia Genyuk.

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