Stellular Showdown: Comparing the Sun, Antares, and Arcturus

It is interesting to learn the sheer size and scale of objects in the sky.  It is hard for me to wrap my head around the mass of objects.  For example, the Sun weighs 2 billion billion billion tons, a mass so large that it is hard for me to relate to.  One of my favorite stars to look at in the sky is called Antares, which is classified as a red supergiant star.  It is referenced below in an image I took back in July 2012, which is only a 13 second exposure taken with my DSLR camera.

Antares (taken with my DSLR)

Antares (taken with my DSLR)

I always thought the Sun was huge, and it is when you compare it to the planets in our Solar System.  For example, you could fit 1 million Earths inside the Sun…now that is huge!  When compared to other Stars in our Solar System, the Sun is actually quite small.  Compared to Antares, the Sun becomes insignificant.  Antares is enormous!  In terms of weight, this star boasts 12.4 M (solar mass), which is the equivalent of 12.4 times the mass of our Sun.  If you take the time to calculate that out, you get a number with a lot zeros after it.  Arcturus is another one of my favorite stars to gaze at because of its orange yellow glow in the night sky.

Arcturus (Tak Sky 90II, 30 sec exposure)

Arcturus (Tak Sky 90II, 30 sec exposure)

Because mass is hard for me to relate to, sometimes a visual aid helps tell the story of how different objects compare to one another.  Here is a relative size comparison among the Antares, Arcturus, and the Sun (see below).  As you can see, the Sun looks like a small pinhead compared to Antares and Arcturus.  I just find it amazing that there are celestial bodies out in deep space that are so enormous that they make our Sun look so small.

Comparison: Antares Arcturus and the Sun

Comparison: Antares Arcturus and the Sun

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