As desert scorpions begin to come out in this late spring Sahara evening, the heavenly scorpion, the constellation Scorpius, rises above scenic rock formations in Tassili National Park in the southern Algeria. Notable on the right, is bright star Antares or Alpha Scorpii, the heart of scorpion, between the sandstone cliffs. Antares is a red supergiant star in the Milky Way galaxy. With a diameter of approximately 800 times that of the sun if it were placed in the center of our solar system, its outer surface would lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Antares name derives from an Ancient Greek word meaning “against Ares (Mars)” due to the similarity of its reddish hue to the appearance of the planet Mars. While Antares is approximately 600 light-years the little faint and defuse “star” at its top right is the M4 globular cluster of over 100,000 stars, located 7200 light years away.
Tassili National Park is a World Heritage Site in the heart of Sahara Desert. Prehistoric skygazers surely witnessed a similar sky. In addition to dramatic sandstone formations, the Tassili region is noted for rock paintings and archaeological sites dating to neolithic times. © Babak Tafreshi