Episode 119 -Deep Sky Observing in Ophiuchus Show Notes

Ophiuchus lies between Aquila, Serpens, Scorpius, Sagittarius, and Hercules, northwest of the center of the Milky Way. The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. In the northern hemisphere, it is best visible in summer. Ophiuchus is depicted as a man grasping a serpent…To the ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the son of the god Apollo struggling with a huge snake,he was Asclepius, the god of medicine.

Asclepius killed a snake with his staff. But another snake dropped some herbs on the dead one, bringing it back to life. Asclepius then used those herbs to resurrect the son of King Minos.

Business was good for Asclepius and therefore fewer people were entering the underworld. So Hades, the god of the underworld, complained to Zeus, the king of the gods who fixed “this problem” by killing  Asclepius with a lightning bolt.

But that didn’t sit well with Apollo. To appease him, Zeus placed Asclepius in the sky. Today, those stars are known as Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. He’s depicted with a snake wrapped around his waist. And that’s why the symbol for modern medicine is a pair of snakes wrapped around a staff — it’s a representation of the story of Ophiuchus. I figured we’d do this constellation this year since things are hinging on some magical herbs to bring things back to life at present 🙂

19 Stars1 Comet1 Asteroid10 GC1 Gx2 PN2 OC11 DN2 Complex1 Asterism1 HII Nebula

Lots of Bright stars but none crack the top 50

δ Oph A Mag. 2.7 Yed Prior

ε Oph A Mag. 3.2  Yed Posterior 

ζ Oph Mag. 2.5 Nearest O-Type Star – Zeta Ophiuchi is one of the sky’s most famous “runaway stars”. Zeta Ophiuchi seems to have been expelled from a double star system when its more-massive companion exploded, and is now a tiny neutron star about the size of a small town. Supernovae can occur off-center, blasting one star off to one side, and the other in the opposite direction.

κ Oph Mag. 3.2 – Kappa Ophiuchi is a pulsating long-period variable star of type LB:. Its magnitude varies from +4.1 to +5.0

Sabik η Oph AB Mag 2.4 A = 3 B = 7.6 orbit = 87.6y

θ Oph AB Ceph Var 3.25 – 3.31

α Oph AB Mag. 2.1 Rasalhague

β Oph 2.8 Cebalrai 

ν Oph +2P Mag. 3.3 with Brown Dwarf Companions – Nu Ophiuchi is an eruptive variable star of type . Its magnitude varies with an irregular or unknown period.

Nearest Star – Barnard’s Star, second nearest star to solar system after Proxima Cen but at Mag. 9.5 it is certainly not among the brightest though easily visible through small telescopes.

Double and Multiple Stars

λ Oph AB combined 3.8 A4.2 B5.2 – just 1” so Difficult to separate 

36 Oph AB combined 3.9 A4.3 B5.1 -36 Ophiuchi is a triple star system 19.5 light years away in constellation Ophiuchus. All three components are orange main sequence dwarves; component C orbits the much closer binary AB pair. A massive but unseen fourth substellar component around 36 Oph B is now thought to be unlikely.

36 Oph A and B are a perfectly matched pair of golden-orange magnitude 5.1 stars appearing some 5″ apart. This pair is a 470-year binary, separated on average by 88 AU, but in a highly eccentric orbit (e=0.922) that brings them between 7 and 169 AU apart. 36 Oph C is separated from the AB pair by 700″, so it has a negligible effect on the movement of the AB pair.

In the novels of the “Dune” universe by Frank Herbert, 36 Ophiuchi B is orbited by the planet Giedi Prime.

τ Oph AB combined 4.8 A5.3 B5.9

70 Oph AB combined 4.1 A4.2 B6.2 -70 Ophiuchi is a binary star system of magnitude 4.03. It appears in the northeastern part of Ophiuchus, on the east side of a V-shaped asterism called “Poniatowski’s Bull.”

Carbon Stars

V Oph 7.3-11.6

TW Oph 8.5-9.4 – TW Ophiuchi is a pulsating semi-regular variable star of type SRB. Its magnitude varies from +11.6 to +13.8, over a period of 185.0 days.

Variable Stars

V Oph – 7.5 – 10.2 297 a carbon star & pulsating Mira Type in low power field w globular M107

R Oph 7.6 – 13.3 R Ophiuchi is a pulsating Mira-type variable star of type M. Its magnitude varies from +7.0 to +13.8, over a period of 306.5 days.

X Oph 6.8 – 8.8 X Ophiuchi From SF – is a pulsating Mira-type variable star of type M. Its magnitude varies from +5.9 to +9.2, over a period of 328.9 days.

EU – Sum Oph X Ophiuchi M (Mira, Long Period Variable) 5.9-8.6 338 M6-K1 18:38.3 +08:50 Good example of a longperiod variable for small instruments; variable-star chart recommended.

Open Clusters – Star Clusters

IC 4665 OC

Messier Objects

9,10,12,14,19,62,107 all GC’s

Finest NGC Objects

6369 PN

6572 PN

6633 OC

Dark Nebula

44,59,64,68,70,72,78 all Barnard #’s

Challenge Object


Deep Sky Gems





Wide-Field Wonders

ρ Oph Complex


Prancing Horse – B’s 59,78,77, 262,63,64,268

IC 4665

Taurus Poniatovii – Barnard’s star currently resides here 

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