α Ophiuchi

Alpha Ophiuchi is known as Ras Alhague, The Head of the Serpent Holder. With a visual magnitude of 2.1 this white star is the brightest in this part of the heavens, while not competing with Vega and Altair.

Finding Ras Alhague should be quite easy. The star forms the southwestern tip of an equilateral triangle with Altair and Vega. There are a number of other relationships which you may find more convenient, such as approximiately midway between a line drawn from Arcturus to Altair: finding Ras Alhague.

Ras Alhague is the northern-most star in the asterism: binoculars.

Due south of alpha about three degees is 53 Ophiuchi, a nice binocular binary which goes by the label of Struve (Appendix) 34: 5.8, 7.5; 190, 41.1".


There is a colour-contrast binary close by. If you centre alpha Ophiuchi then move a little over a binocular field east you'll encounter a semi-circle of stars, among which is found Struve 2276 (a yellowish-white primary and bluish companion): 7.1, 7.4; 256, 7.0".

Now two full binocular fields south-southwest brings you to beta Oph. There is a lot to explore in this field of view.

Click on beta on the map to continue.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.