Universe Guide

Ophiuchus, The Serpent Holder Constellation

Ophiuchus Constellation Star Map

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. Ophiuchus is the 11th largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation 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.

There are 14 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 2234 stars. There are 84 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

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.

There are 27 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Ophiuchus.

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.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Distance to Ophiuchus

You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 48.59 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 901.00 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 221.17 light years.

Ophiuchus Star Facts

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.

Barnard's Star, Ophiuchus's Nearest Star

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.

HIP 82191, Ophiuchus's Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 82191 and it is 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.

Rasalhague, Brightest Star in Ophiuchus

The brightest star in Ophiuchus is Rasalhague and is located about 218.95 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 2.08 but an absolute magnitude of 1.21 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is recognised as being the brightest in the constellation as it has the Bayer status of Alpha.

V2213 Ophiuchi, Ophiuchus's Dimmest Visible Star

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.

How to Find and View Ophiuchus in the Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

June represents the best time to see the whole constellation at about 9 p.m. If can be viewed earlier in the year but only later. The earlier in the year, the later you need to be. For example, to see it in May, you need to look at about 10pm when it will be mostly visible. The constellation can be viewed in a E-SE direction. It will not get high in the sky. In November, the constellation will be mostly gone.

Southern Hemisphere

Ophiuchus will be near full viewable from about 9 p.m. in an easterly direction from May. It will reach high into the sky over the coming months until August and then will start heading back down until it disappears at the end of November.

Ophiuchus Mythology

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.

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.

Ophiuchus Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarRasalhague
Area948.34 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.3%
Size Position11th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count27
Meteor Shower Count13
Nearest StarBarnard's Star
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 154088
Brightest StarRasalhague
Dimmest StarV2213 Ophiuchi
Furthest StarHIP 82191
Bright Star Count84
Hipparcos Star Count2234
Main Star Count14
Messier Deep Space Object Count7
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.

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

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
IC 4665Open Star Cluster1400 +05 43 017 46 18m 0
Kepler SNRSupernova Remnant-21 28 56.2317 30 35m 976
Little Ghost NebulaPlanetary Nebula2,500 - 5,000 -23:45:34.2217h 29h 20m 443
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
NGC6240Interacting Galaxies400,000,000+02 24 03.5516 52 58m 861
SN 1604Supernova Remnant-21 28 56.2317 30 35m 976
Twinjet NebulaPlanetary Nebula2,100 -10:08:34.5817h 05h 37m 952

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