The Constellation Ophiuchus is one of the larger constellations in the equatorial
section of the sky. Although the Ophiuchus constellation is not included in the original Zodiac, the sun now passes through
this constellation each December. The sun did not pass through the Ophiuchus
constellation 3000 years ago when the Babylonians created the 12 Zodiac signs, but has since joined the other 12 constellations
in the sun’s path due to the precession of the Earth.
The Rho Ophiuchus Nebula Complex (IC4604) and the surrounding area lies within
the Ophiuchus Constellation, and is one of the most interesting and beautiful
areas in the entire sky. Featuring the bright star Antares, the Ophiuchi Triple Star and surrounding IC4604 Reflection Nebula,
M4 Globular Cluster, and the smaller NGC 6144 Globular Cluster, as well as various dark nebula, this area holds something
of interest for any astronomer or deep space imager. The beautiful blue IC 4604 reflection nebula surrounding the Rho Ophiuchi
Triple Star is one of the standout features in this area. It is a result of interstellar dust that is illuminated by nearby
stars. The red areas of this image are red emission nebulae that are created by hydrogen gas emitting light. The dark areas
are not blank sky, but dark nebula where thick dust clouds are obscuring background stars. The giant red-giant star Antares
dominates the image and is surrounded by subtle and unusual yellow reflection nebulosity. Antares is approximately 700 times
larger and 9000 more luminous than our Sun.
Key Image Elements:
IC 4604 is the large blue reflection nebula which surrounds the Rho
Ophiuchi Triple Star on the left and vertically centered in image.
IC 4603 is the blue reflection nebula to the right of the Rho Ophiuchus
blue reflection nebula.
Antares is the large, bright star surrounded by the yellow reflection
nebula and located in the lower right hand corner of the image.
M4 is the larger globular star cluster that is located on the right
side towards the upper right hand corner of the image.
NGC 6144 is the smaller globular star cluster and is located just
left of an imaginary line between Antares and the larger M4 Globular Star Cluster.
IC 4605 is the blue nebula at the bottom middle of the image.
SH2-9 is the red Emission nebula at the top of the image.