Constellation - Ophiuchus

Constellation - Ophiuchus


Ophiuchus, the Serpent bearer, is a large constellation best seen in the summer in the northern hemisphere. This is one of the original 48 constellations described by Ptolemy. It is interesting as it crosses the ecliptic line like the constellations of the zodiac but is not included in the signs of the zodiac. Therefore, some people describe it as the "13th sign of the zodiac". Ophiuchus contains Barnard's star which is one of the closest stars to ourselves (excluding the triple system alpha centauri). It is a magnitude 9.6 star that can be found to the left of the star labelled 2.8 and above the star 4.0 in the diagram above.


Ophiuchus is depicted as grappling with a snake and is thought to be the healer, Asclepius the greek god of medicine. Asclepius was the son of Apollo. He was killed by Zeus with a thunderbolt made by Apollo for resurrecting the dead. After his death he was placed in the night sky. The Rod of Asclepius remains the symbol of medicine today and is the image of a rod with a serpent coiled around it.

Take the Tour:

Number Object Description Magnitude Surface Brightness
1 M12 Globular Cluster 6.5 12
2 M10 Globular Cluster 6.5 12
3 M107 Globular Cluster 8.0 12
4 M14 Globular Cluster 7.5 12
5 M9 Globular Cluster 7.9 11

Each image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.



Messier 12 is a globular cluster found  15,700 light years away. It was discovered by Messier in May 1764. M12 is quite difficult to see with binoculars. It was once thought to be a tightly packed open cluster due to its loose packing of stars. It is thought to have lost four times the number of stars that it currently has to the gravitational pull of the Milky Way and hence has few low mass stars.



Messier 10 is a globular cluster found 14,300 light years away. It was discovered by Charles Messier in May 1764. It can be seen in the same field of view as M12 with binoculars. It appears as the brighter of the two globular clusters. This cluster is currently travelling away from us at 69 km/s.



Messier 107 is a globular cluster found 20,900 light years away. It was discovered by Mechain in April 1782 but not added to the Messier catalogue until 1947. It is a loosely packed globular. It is easily seen in small telescopes and holds up well in moderate light pollution. This globular is travelling towards us at 147 km/s.



Messier 14 is a globular cluster found about 30,000 light years away. It was discovered by Charles Messier in June 1764. This globular cluster stands out as being one of only two that contained a nova. This cluster isn't as easy to observe as it should be. This is probably due to its poorly defined core. 



Messier 9 is a globular cluster located around 25,000 light years away. It was discovered by Messier in May 1764. This is a small globular cluster to observe. It is travelling away from us and is currently passing through an interstellar dust cloud which maes it seem dimmer than it would normally be.

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