Starwatch: red jewel of Antares in a pre-dawn pairing with the moon

Those up before dawn should look south for a pretty pairing this week. On 6 February, the waning crescent moon will draw close to the beautiful red jewel of Antares, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion.

The moon will have just 33% of its visible surface illuminated. A clear southern horizon will be needed to see the pairing as they will not have time to rise very high before the returning sun will fill the sky with twilight and interfere with the view.

The chart shows the view looking south-south-east from London at 6am GMT on 6 February. The further west you are located, the closer the moon will appear to the bright red supergiant. Antares contains 12 times the mass of the sun and its radius is about 680 times larger than our star. Its surface temperature of about 3,400C is what gives it such a deep red colour. It is much easier to see the pair the further south you are located. From Australia, the best view will be on the morning of 7 February.