The Constellation Ophiuchus

by Dominic Ford
Ophiuchus Ophiuchus
The constellation Ophiuchus. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Ophiuchus is a large equatorial constellation which appears highest in the midnight sky in the months around June.

It lies just north of the Milky Way and encompasses a particularly rich part of the galaxy. Our sightline towards the center of the galaxy lies not far away, in the neighboring constellation of Sagittarius.

This means that Ophiuchus is exceptionally rich in globular clusters, which mostly lie in spherical swarm around the galaxy's center. Ophiuchus alone contains no fewer than 16 that are brighter than tenth magnitude, second only to Sagittarius which contains 18 clusters of the same brightness.

Although Ophiuchus is not among the twelve traditional constellations of the zodiac, the Sun passes through its southern extremities for around two weeks each year in early December. Ophiuchus is the only constellation other than the traditional twelve that the Sun passes through, making it effectively a thirteenth zodiacal constellation.

On sky charts, Ophiuchus is depicted as a man holding a serpent, often identified as Asclepius, the god of medicine. The figure's brightest star is named Rasalhague, Arabic for ‘the head of the serpent collector’.

Date First Appeared
Ancient
Sky Area
2.3% of the sky
948.3 square degrees
Messier Objects
Ophiuchus contains the following Messier objects: M9, M10, M12, M14, M19, M62, M107.
Caldwell Objects
Ophiuchus contains no Caldwell objects
Neighbors
The following constellations neighbor Ophiuchus: Aquila, Hercules, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Serpens Caput, Serpens Cauda.
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Brightest Objects in Ophiuchus

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Rasalhague (mag 2.1) IC 4665 (mag 4.2) Messier 10 (mag 6.6) NGC 6384 (mag 10.6)
Sabik (mag 2.4) NGC 6633 (mag 4.6) Messier 12 (mag 6.6) NGC 6368 (mag 13.0)
ζ-Oph (mag 2.6) NGC 6481 Messier 62 (mag 6.6) NGC 6509 (mag 13.0)
Yed Prior (mag 2.7) Messier 19 (mag 7.2) NGC 6570 (mag 13.0)
Cebalrai (mag 2.8) Messier 14 (mag 7.6) IC 1255 (mag 14.0)
κ-Oph (mag 3.2) Messier 9 (mag 7.9) NGC 6296 (mag 14.0)
Yed Posterior (mag 3.2) Messier 107 (mag 8.1) IC 4691 (mag 15.0)
θ-Oph (mag 3.3) NGC 6293 (mag 8.2) NGC 6234 (mag 15.0)
ν-Oph (mag 3.3) NGC 6356 (mag 8.4) NGC 6615 (mag 15.0)
72-Oph (mag 3.7) NGC 6304 (mag 8.4) NGC 6240 (mag 15.0)
γ-Oph (mag 3.7) NGC 6316 (mag 9.0) IC 1242 (mag 15.0)
67-Oph (mag 4.0) NGC 6284 (mag 9.0) IC 4688 (mag 15.0)
p-Oph (mag 4.1) NGC 6287 (mag 9.2) NGC 6220 (mag 15.0)
Marfik (mag 4.1) NGC 6401 (mag 9.5) NGC 6280 (mag 15.0)
b-Oph (mag 4.2) NGC 6355 (mag 9.6) NGC 6378 (mag 15.0)
χ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6342 (mag 9.9) IC 4676 (mag 16.0)
d-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6366 (mag 10.0)
φ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6235 (mag 10.2)
A-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6517 (mag 10.3)
σ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6325 (mag 10.7)
ι-Oph (mag 4.4) NGC 6426 (mag 11.2)
ξ-Oph (mag 4.4) IC 1257
68-Oph (mag 4.4)
ω-Oph (mag 4.4)
ψ-Oph (mag 4.5)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme