by Shell Selvans
Blessed New Moon! In the coming week or two, we welcome you to go outside with your family at 10:00PM, once it gets good and dark, and enjoy the Midsummer stars!
In keeping with appreciating the constellations along the ecliptic that are currently coming into view just after dusk, I'll challenge you this month to find one of the more elusive: Scorpius (and Libra too). It is quite obvious in terms of the arrangement of the stars, but hard to spot because of how close it is to the southern horizon.
The challenge is to find a place to view the southern horizon with little to no interruption! The scorpion's tail is long...
To find the scorpion's eyes and heart, you can first find Spica (hint: use the Big Dipper's handle to arc to Arcturus and then spike down to Spica) and its bright companion at the time, Jupiter.
From these two, look south and a little further down toward the horizon to find another pair of bright companions. First you'll get to the reddish star Antares (anti-Ares, so named because it is red like Mars/Ares, and is close to the path the planets take through the sky, but don't be fooled - it's *not* Mars!) and next you'll see the brighter planet Saturn (if you have a good pair of binoculars, or a telescope, check out Saturn's rings!). At this point, you will be facing south.
Antares is the heart of the scorpion, and the three stars the curve around and above it to the right are its head (center) and the start of its long claws that reach out into the surrounding stars. Those claws reach all the way out to grip the tops of the scales in the neighboring constellation Libra - long ago, those two bright stars in Libra were part of Scorpius! And I still imagine them to be the claws...
The body of the scorpion curves into a hook shape, down toward the horizon from Antares, curving left with the tail coming back up into the sky to point up from the horizon, with the stinger at the end of the tail. This tail is at a special place in the sky, pointing approximately to the center of our galaxy. That center point of our own galaxy would be overwhelmingly bright in the night sky, with the glow of so many concentrated stars, except that huge clouds of dust between us and the galaxy's center obscure much of that light.
Saturn hangs just above the center of our galaxy, and the tail of the scorpion.
The following star chart can help you find Scorpius (and Libra) and Saturn:
Make sure to line up the direction printed on the edge of the star chart with the direction you're facing. After 11:00PM, the stars will have rotated a bit from where they're shown. Also, you might want to find your own chart if you are on our Mother Earth somewhere other than the contiguous 48 states of the U.S., or a similar latitude.
Blessed be your stargazing!
If you enjoyed this and would like to connect more deeply with the stars, our magical community and the children of the world, please join CAYA Sprouts in our monthly Children of Promise New Moon working!