Scorpius is perhaps the most beautiful of the zodiacal constellations. This southern constellation is located on the ecliptic between Libra and Sagittarius and is situated south of Ophiuchus. Antares (Alpha Scorpii), the reddish 1st magnitude star might first catch the observers attention. Then look for the remainder of the constellation which includes a distinct head, long slender body, curling tail, and stinger of a scorpion. Even though Sagittarius is on the lowest point of the ecliptic, Scorpius is the southernmost of the zodiacal constellations, which tends to leave the tail hanging below the treeline for us northern latitude observers. Southbound travelers in July, which is when Scorpius reaches its highest nightfall ascension, should make it a point to observe this very pretty constellation.
Scorpius’ location on the Milky way makes it home for many deep sky objects, such as the Butterfly Cluster (M6) and the Ptolemy Cluster (M7). Other objects cataloged by Charles Messier include globular clusters M4 and M80.
© James R. Johnson, 2014