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See Full Strawberry Moon, Fiery Antares Star Over Concord This Weekend

CONCORD, CA — When gazing at the full strawberry moon Saturday night, look a few degrees right, and you’ll see the fiery star Antares — that’s if sky conditions over Concord will allow it.

Right now, mainly clear skies are forecast for early Saturday night over Concord.

If you miss the full moon Saturday — it reaches peak illumination at 8:41 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time — don’t worry. This is what’s called a “full moon weekend,” and the moon should appear full through Monday morning.

The June full moon is called the strawberry moon because it occurs during the relatively short season for harvesting the sweet, succulent berries. It’s also sometimes called the honey or mead moon, the rose or flower moon, the hot moon, the hoe moon, the planting moon and others, depending on what activity was important to those who bestowed the moniker.

Because it’s red and super bright, Antares is often confused with Mars. The brightest star in the constellation Scorpius, Antares is about 700 times larger than the sun, “so incredibly enormous that it challenges the English language,” according to Sky & Telescope.

Star Antares and its vicinity, at Scorpius Constellation, with colorful nebula in sight (Getty Images)

“Put it this way: If the Sun were a penny lying on a basketball court, Antares would be almost the width of the court itself,” Daniel Johnson wrote for Sky & Telescope a few years ago. “Or, if you were to put Antares in place of the Sun, we’d be inside it. Its edge would be out past the orbit of Mars.”

Astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter added this in a Universe Today post: “if put inside our own solar system, the photosphere of Antares would engulf the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and even Mars, stretching roughly the orbit of the asteroid belt.”

One reason Antares appears so huge is that it’s in the late stages of its life cycle and is literally running out of gas — hydrogen, that is — at its core.

“The increasing presence of helium — the byproduct of hydrogen fusion — in the core pushes the hydrogen burning into a shell around it,” Sutter explained. “That in turn inflates the star to grotesque proportions.”

When there is no fuel left to burn, Antares will collapse and explode into a supernova and “its brightness will rival that of the rest of our galaxy put together,” astrophysicists Paul Butterworth and Mike Arida said in an answer on NASA’s Imagine the Universe.

Antares should be visible throughout the night Saturday, when it’s in opposition to the sun. It is not visible for several weeks around Nov. 30 because it’s too close to the sun.

There are plenty of other celestial bodies to gaze at in the nighttime sky. Venus and Mars are visible in the evening sky this month, and Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury can be seen in the morning sky.
And around the time of the summer solstice on June 21, you’re likely to see rare noctilucent clouds, sometimes called “electric blue clouds” because of their color, according to AccuWeather.

And who knows? You may see a meteor or two.

The summer shooting star shows don’t start until next month, but meteors are always flying, and several shooting stars an hour are usually visible on any given night, according to NASA.

And, as the sun approaches “solar maximum” in its 11-year cycle and the number of sunspots ramps up, we may see the northern lights more often.

Source: Patch