You’ve got about another month or two to see a uniquely summer star for us in the Northern Hemisphere, Antares in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion, during the evening hours. Antares is the brightest star near the moon tonight (August 5, 2014). It’s visible to Northern Hemisphere viewers in the southern to southwest sky as night begins, and more overhead for you if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.
The moon has now passed the first quarter phase and now exhibits a slight curvature to its terminator line – the line between dark and light on the moon. This moon phase is called waxing gibbous. The waxing gibbous moon and Antares will drift westward throughout the night, to set in the southwest around midnight at mid-northern latitudes.
Like all stars, Antares sets some 4 minutes earlier with each passing night, or 2 hours earlier with each passing month. By October, this star will be tough to spot in the southwestern twilight after sunset.
In ancient Chinese thought, the summer season was associated with the direction south, with the element fire, and with the color red. No wonder, then, that this reddish star in the south each summer – beautiful Antares – was considered the Fire Star of the ancient Chinese.
Antares appears as a bright reddish star that rides relatively low in the south all summer. We know it as a great ball of gases, a thermonuclear cauldron radiating unimaginable amounts of energy into the blackness and vastness of space.
Yet to us – as to the ancient Chinese – Antares appears so near the southern horizon that we must view it through a great thickness of air. The air through which we view Antares causes this star to twinkle rapidly! On any summer evening, if you see a bright red star low in the south that’s twinkling fiercely … it’s probably Antares.
Bottom line: The bright star near the moon on August 5, 2014 is Antares, brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. This star can be seen near the moon tonight from around the world.