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Scorpius lights up the night sky

One of the most prominent constellations found in the summer sky is Scorpius. It is one of the few "sky pictures" that actually looks like the creature it is named after, a scorpion. The early Polynesians envisioned it as a fishing hook. What pictures can you see?

Antares, the bright red star in the body of the scorpion, is a red giant more than 330 times the diameter of our sun. If our sun were the size of a baseball, Antares would be 2 miles across. Antares is almost 2,000 times as bright as the sun. It takes the light of Antares 250 years to reach us, while the light from nearby Jupiter reaches us in less than one hour. Thanks to the finite velocity of light, you are looking back in time!

As the last vestiges of light leave the skies, look to the west to find the reddish planet Mars. Notice that Mars does not twinkle but the stars around it may. The moon will join the red planet Monday evening and again on July 31.

We can now turn our eyes to the southeast to see the brightest "star" in the sky, the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is now at its brightest and biggest (in telescopic viewing) for the year. It will be the object of attention of many amateur astronomers as they look for signs of the encounter with the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 last summer. The moon will join with Jupiter on the evenings of July 8 and 9.

After midnight we can find Saturn rising in the east and toward the south before sunrise. Its view in a telescope will appear strange to many, since the rings will appear missing while they are on edge to us, but this will give us a better view of the planet and its array of moons.

Mercury and Venus may be seen 30 to 40 minutes before sunrise the first half of July. Look to the east-northeast to find the pair as they move deeper into the glare of the sun with the ending days of July.

Star shows

The adult star show for the Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton and the Saunders Planetarium (at MOSI) in Tampa is "Hubble Vision." The show explores the development and discoveries of the space telescope.

"Larry Cat in Space" is also at both planetariums. This children's show tells the story of an inquisitive cat's adventure to the moon.

If skies are

clear these faci-

lities will have their telescopes set up on Friday and Saturday evenings. For information, call the Bishop Planetarium at (941) 746-4131 and the Saunders Planetarium at (813) 987-6300.

July sky calendar

Monday _ At dusk, Mars is above the crescent moon in the west. The Earth is farthest from the sun at 94.5-million miles.

July 5 _ First quarter moon.

July 8 _ The moon is to the right of Jupiter after dusk.

July 9 _ The moon is to left of Jupiter after dusk.

July 11 _ The moon is closest to the Earth (perigee) at 222,942 miles.

July 12 _ Full moon. The full moon of July is the Hay or Thunder Moon. The Local Group of Deep Sky Observers meets at 7 p.m. at the Bishop Planetarium.

July 13 _ The MARS astronomy club meets at MOSI at 7:30 p.m.

July 15 _ Look toward the east to see the moon above and to the right of Saturn.

July 16 _ Look toward the east to see the moon above left of Saturn.

July 19 _ Last quarter moon.

July 20 _ At 30 minutes before dawn, Mercury and Venus are less than {-degree apart above the east-northeast horizon. It's hard to see.

July 23 _ The moon is at its greatest distance (apogee) from Earth at 252,100 miles.

July 27 _ New moon. Mercury is at superior conjunction _ on the other side of the sun.

July 28 _ The St. Petersburg Astronomy Club meets at 8 p.m. at the Science Center of Pinellas County at 7701 22nd Ave. N.

Celestial updates

TimesLine keeps you in touch with a daily short astronomy feature. Use your push-button phone to call the number for your area (on today's TV page) and enter code number 7827 (STAR).

Daryl L. Schrader is an astronomy and mathematics professor at St. Petersburg Junior College and teaches astronomy at the University of South Florida.

Why do we have summer?

In the Northern Hemisphere, summer is the hottest season, winter is the coldest and autumn and spring are relatively mild. We owe this change of seasons to the way the Earth is tilted.

The Earth rotates on an axis that is always tilted at an angle of about 23 1/1 degrees. This tilted axis puts the Northern Hemisphere in a more direct path of the sun's rays in the summertime. In fact, the Earth is at its greatest distance from the sun on July 3.


The tilt of Earth's axis is toward the sun in summer, subjecting the Northern Hemisphere to more direct sunlight.


The tilt of Earth's axis is away from the sun in winter, resulting in less direct sunlight reaching the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth's axis

The rotation of Earth's axis gives us night and day.

Earth's orbit

Earth orbits the sun in one years, giving us four seasons.

Earth's tilted axis works the reverse way for people in the Southern Hemisphere, making their seasons the opposite of ours.

Source: World Book Encyclopedia