α Scuti

Alpha Scuti is an orange giant, the brightest star in this compact constellation at a magnitude of 3.9.

Much of the constellation can be seen in this one binocular field; one of the two Messier objects is in this field, the other just out of view off to the south.

Alpha Scuti is found southwest of Aquila. With lambda Aquilae on your extreme eastern edge, beta Scuti is on your western edge: binoculars. Now place beta on the northern edge to find alpha at the southwest.

This one binocular field contains a number of binaries; two are just northwest of M11 less than a degree. Suitable for binoculars is Struve 2391AB: 6.5, 9.6; 322º, 38.0".

The other is H VI 50, a multiple star system:
      AB: 6.2, 12.5; 358º, 24".
      AC: 6.2, 8.2; 171º, 110.6".

Also in the same tiny region is R Scuti, a yellow supergiant with a radius about 60 times that of the Sun. It's found about a degree due south of beta.
     This is the brightest of the RV-Tauri type of variable, which pulsate with varying maxima and minima. In general it fluctuates between a naked-eye visibility of 4.2 down to a minimum of 8.6 every 142 days with a lesser minimum every 71 days.

M11 is the Wild Duck Cluster, a very rich open cluster of nearly 3000 stars.
      With an apparent magnitude of 5.8, this is a splendid object for small telescopes—a tight grouping of white, yellow, and orange stars, with several hundred first magnitude stars at its centre.
     It was Admiral William Henry Smyth who likened it to ‘a flight of wild ducks’ and the name was quickly adopted. It's about 220 million years old although some investigators give it twice that age.

M26 may be a bit of a let-down after the magnificence of M11; this open cluster of several dozen stars is resolved in medium telescopes and larger instruments will show perhaps a hundred in all. Its brightest stars are about 12 magnitude; the overall apparent magnitude is reported at 8.0.

Centring alpha Scuti in your glasses, move one field southwest to find gamma

Click on this star on the map to continue.

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