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
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
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 5.0) NGC 6384 (mag 10.6)
Sabik (mag 2.4) NGC 6633 (mag 4.6) Messier 19 (mag 5.6) NGC 6240 (mag 13.4)
ζ-Oph (mag 2.6) Messier 14 (mag 5.7)
Yed Prior (mag 2.7) Messier 12 (mag 6.1)
Cebalrai (mag 2.8) NGC 6235 (mag 7.2)
κ-Oph (mag 3.2) Messier 62 (mag 7.4)
Yed Posterior (mag 3.2) NGC 6356 (mag 7.4)
θ-Oph (mag 3.3) NGC 6284 (mag 7.4)
ν-Oph (mag 3.3) Messier 9 (mag 8.4)
72-Oph (mag 3.7) Messier 107 (mag 8.8)
γ-Oph (mag 3.7) NGC 6293 (mag 9.0)
67-Oph (mag 4.0) NGC 6316 (mag 9.0)
p-Oph (mag 4.1) NGC 6304 (mag 9.0)
Marfik (mag 4.1) NGC 6366 (mag 10.0)
b-Oph (mag 4.2) NGC 6342 (mag 10.0)
χ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6287 (mag 10.3)
d-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6517 (mag 10.3)
φ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6325 (mag 10.7)
A-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6401 (mag 10.7)
σ-Oph (mag 4.3) NGC 6355 (mag 11.1)
ι-Oph (mag 4.4) NGC 6426 (mag 11.2)
ξ-Oph (mag 4.4)
68-Oph (mag 4.4)
ω-Oph (mag 4.4)
ψ-Oph (mag 4.5)




Color scheme