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Ophiuchus, The Serpent Holder Constellation

Ophiuchus (Pronounciation:Off-you-cuss, Abbrev:Oph, Latin:Ophiuchi) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Ophiuchus takes up 948.34 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.3% of the night sky. The constellation gets its name as it name means The Serpent Holder . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

Ophiuchus is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Ophiuchus is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.

The brightest star in Ophiuchus is Rasalhague. There are 26 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Ophiuchus. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Ophiuchus Star List Page.

Ophiuchus Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Ophiuchus is 2234. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 84. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 14.

There are 7 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is Barnard's Star which is roughly about 5.95 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HD 154088 which is about 58.18 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 82191 which is located about 163081.7 Light Years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

The dimmest star that can be seen in Ophiuchus with the naked eye is V2213 Ophiuchi. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

To some people, Ophiuchus is the thirteenth sign of the Zodiac because the sun sets in this constellation during the year. Most astrologers will discount Ophiuchus but there are some that do recognise and produce horoscopes for this constellation. If you're born at the end of November or beginning of December, its likely your real star sign will be Ophiuchus and will explain why your horoscope forecast is always wrong. As Ophiuchus is inserted, other constellations will move too. For more information, have a look at my other Ophiuchus page.

Legend of the Constellation

Whilst Apollo was away, Coronis was unfaithful to him and bore a son Asclepius with Ischys. When Apollo found out, he killed his wife and removed the baby. The baby Asclepius was given to the Centaur Chiron who taught him medicine. He was able to raise people from the dead which angered Hades. The Underworld God, Hades asked Zeus to put an end to this and Asclepius was struck down by a thunderbolt. Asclepius created his medicines from the poisons of plants and snakes. After death, Asclepius became the constellation Ophiuchus. This constellation is sometimes referred to as the thirteenth star sign, the one that Astrologers ignore.

Meteor Showers

There are 12 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The ones listed as the ones I've been able to find a date range for. For others if you have the time, you can visit the AMU site, obtains the SL value then use IMO tables to calculate the date. A lot of the Meteor Showers are weak and you need to do a lot of stargazing to spot them.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
UrsidsDecember 17-25Dec. 22Kochab

Ophiuchus Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarRasalhague
Area948.34 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.3%
Size Position11th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count26
Meteor Shower Count12
Nearest StarBarnard's Star
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 154088
Dimmest StarV2213 Ophiuchi
Furthest StarHIP 82191
Bright Star Count84
Hipparcos Star Count2234
Main Star Count14
Messier Deep Space Object Count7
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsHercules

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Ophiuchus Constellation Map

Ophiuchus Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Ophiuchus

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Little Ghost NebulaPlanetary Nebula-23d 45` 34.817h 29m 20m 45
Messier 10 (NGC6254)Globular Cluster14300-04:0616h 57m 1
Messier 107 (NGC6171)Globular Cluster20900-13:0416h 32m 5
Messier 12 (NGC6218)Globular Cluster15700-01:5716h 47m 2
Messier 14 (NGC6402)Globular Cluster30300-03:1517h 37m 6
Messier 19 (NGC6273)Globular Cluster28700-26:1617h 02m 6
Messier 62 (NGC6266)Globular Cluster22200-30:0717h 01m 2
Messier 9 (NGC6333)Globular Cluster25800-18:3117h 19m 2

Meteor Showers

Ursids Meteor Shower

The Ursids radiate out from the Ursa Minor constellation rather than the larger Ursa Major, both the bear constellations. The radiant point is near the Kochab, also known as Beta Ursae Star. The associated comet is believed to be 8P/Tuttle which is due back in 2021 but shouldn`t hold out too much hope for a spectacular event as the last one wasn`t as expected.

Associated Comet8P/Tuttle
Max Activity Date22 Dec
Activity PeriodDecember 17-25
Right Ascension219.9
Solar Longitude271
Alpha Radiant219.9
Zenith Hourly Rate10

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