Ophiuchus

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Ophiuchus is a large constellation located around the celestial equator. Its name is Greek (Ὀφιοῦχος) for 'serpent-bearer', and it is commonly represented as a man grasping the snake that is represented by the constellation Serpens. Ophiuchus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the second-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It was formerly referred to as Serpentarius English pronunciation: /ˌsɜrpənˈtɛəriəs/, a Latin word meaning the same as its current name.

Contents

Location

It is located between Aquila, Serpens and Hercules, northwest of the center of the Milky Way. The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It is best visible in the northern summer and located opposite Orion in the sky. Ophiuchus is depicted as a man grasping a serpent; the interposition of his body divides the snake constellation Serpens into two parts, Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, which are nonetheless counted as one constellation.

Notable features

Stars

The brightest stars in Ophiuchus include α Ophiuchi, called Rasalhague (at the figure's head), and η Ophiuchi.

RS Ophiuchi is part of a class called recurrent novae, whose brightness increase at irregular intervals by hundreds of times in a period of just a few days. It is thought to be at the brink of becoming a type-1a supernova.[1]

Barnard's Star, one of the nearest stars to the Solar System (the only stars closer are the Alpha Centauri binary star system and Proxima Centauri), lies in Ophiuchus. (It is located to the left of β and just north of the V-shaped group of stars in an area that was once occupied by the now-obsolete constellation of Taurus Poniatovii, Poniatowski's Bull.)

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