Located at the celestial equator, the large constellation Ophiuchus has its name is from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος, meaning “serpent-bearer” in English. The constellation is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake, with the serpent being represented by the constellation Serpens.

Ophiuchus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. Ophiuchus is one of thirteen constellations that cross the ecliptic.

The space probe Voyager 1, the furthest man-made object from earth, is traveling in the direction of Ophiuchus.

Applicable Information
Visibility In Pacific NorthwestMarch to October
Best Times To ViewJuly and August
Right Ascension17h
Area948 square degrees
Main Stars10
Brightest Objectα Oph (Rasalhague)
Meteor showersOphiuchids, Northern May Ophiuchids, Southern May Ophiuchids, Theta Ophiuchids
Messier objects7
Neighboring ConstellationsHercules, Serpens, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquila


The earliest version of the constellation could have been the Babylonians, whom had a constellation in the general area of Ophiuchus.

The earliest mention of the constellation is by  Aratus, which was informed by the lost catalogue of Eudoxus of Cnidus. This mention has been dated to the 4th century BCE.

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the god Apollo struggling with a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.


The brightest stars in Ophiuchus include α Ophiuchi, η Ophiuchi, β Ophiuchi, and λ Ophiuchi.

Ophiuchus contains several star clusters, that include IC 4665, NGC 6633, M9, M10, M12, M14, M19, M62, M107, and nebula IC 4603-4604.

There is the galaxy merger remnant and starburst galaxy NGC 6240, which has 2 supermassive black holes and an unusually high rate of star formation, which is why it has a classification as a starburst galaxy.

Make sure to check out other articles on the site, including a brief introduction to constellations, other constellation articles, and more!

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