(Submitted February 21, 1997)
I am 34 years old, graduated from Belhaven College in Jackson Mississippi in
1987 with a Business Major. I am from Santa Cruz Bolivia and four years ago
we founded an Insurance Brokers with the name of ANTARES BROKERS because it
is the brightest star of our galaxy.
In this matter I would appreciate if you could help me by sending me
information about this star and if it is possible a poster or a picture of
it. Please let me know if I have to pay for this information in order to
send the check.
First the bad news! Antares, although very luminous, is not the brightest
star in the Galaxy. As you may know, Antares is only the 15th brightest
star as viewed from the Earth (and excluding the Sun). If we could move
all the stars in the galaxy to the same distance from us, so that we could
compare their true brightnesses, Antares would be impressive - but there
would be many even brighter stars. Antares may be the brightest star
within about 1000 light years of us, but go a little beyond that and Deneb,
Betelgeuse and Rigel are all about 10 times brighter. Currently the
brightest known star in the Galaxy is Cygnus OB2 number 12, which is about
200 times brighter than Antares.
Now the good news! Antares is a pretty spectacular object - to be in the
most luminous hundreds of stars in a galaxy of billions is no mean
achievement. It is a red supergiant, which means that it has consumed all
its hydrogen and is still shining only because it has begun to fuse
together increasingly heavy elements. When all the fuseable elements have
been consumed, Antares will collapse and explode in a supernova - at
which time its brightness will rival that of the rest of our galaxy put
together. Antares is also close in the sky to some pretty nebulae, so you
should be able to find just the picture you want. I know of some beautiful
images obtained by David Malin at the Anglo-Australian Telescope, at least
one of which is available as a slide. (Go to
and enter 'Antares' as your search string). You should contact the Royal
Observatory, Edinburgh (by going to their site at
With best wishes,
Paul Butterworth and Mike Arida
for Imagine the Universe!
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