Ophiuchus can be seen in the sky from June through October. Look for the teapot shape!
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image
The constellation Ophiuchus is the Serpent Bearer. This large constellation can be seen in the night sky from June through October. Although most of the stars are dim, Ophiuchus' teapot shape makes it easy to find.
The constellation is a combination of three different figures. Ophiuchus is holding Serpens Caput in his left hand, and Serpens Cauda in his right. He is located south of Hercules and north of Scorpius.
In Greek myth, Ophiuchus represents the god of medicine, Asclepius. Asclepius was the son of Apollo and was taught by Chiron, the Centaur. He learned how to bring people back from the dead, which worried Hades. The god of the underworld asked his brother Zeus to kill the medicine god. Zeus did strike him dead, but then put the figure of Asclepius in the sky to honor him.
There aren't many bright stars in this constellation, but there is a rather unique one. RS Ophiuchi is a type of star called a recurrent nova. These strange objects stay dim for long periods of time, and then suddenly brighten. The brightest star is called Ras Alhague, and is the head of the serpent bearer.
Ophiuchus is full of celestial objects. There are numerous clusters and one nebula in the constellation.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, available in our online store
, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.
You might also be interested in:
What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more
Hercules, the great Greek warrior, can be seen kneeling in the sky for northern latitudes throughout the Spring months. Hercules first becomes visible in the east in April, and works his way high across...more
More than any other constellation, Scorpius resembles its given name. If you live in the northern hemisphere of the Earth, Scorpius crawls across the southern sky, close to the horizon. But if you live...more
Following the defeat of the Titans by the Jovian gods, Hades obtained the kingdom of the underworld. One day, while he was riding through the field of battle, the goddess Aphrodite had her companion Eros...more
In Greek mythology, Zeus (Jupiter in Roman mythology) was the king of heaven and Earth and of all the Olympian gods. He was also known as the god of justice. He was named king of the gods in the special...more
What's in a Name: Arabic for "head of the serpent collector" Claim to Fame: Brightest star, and the head of the serpent, in the constellation Ophiuchus. Type of Star: White Giant How Far Away: 62 light...more
Andromeda is a "V" shaped constellation best viewed in the fall if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Andromeda lies close to the north pole, so only a few in the Southern Hemisphere can see this strangely...more
Aquarius is a member of the Zodiac, a group of constellations that the Sun travels through each year. It is best viewed in the fall in the southern sky, although much of the northern hemisphere can see...more