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The Rho Ophiuchus Nebula Complex Region


IC 4604, Sh2-9, M4, M80,
NGC 6144


This is one of the most colorful and most beautiful regions in the sky. It contains dark nebulae where lanes of obscuring dust hide background stars, blue reflection nebulae where interstellar dust is illuminated by nearby stars and red emission nebulae where hydrogen gas itself is emitting light. The diversity of color in this region is remarkable and unusual.

Rho Ophiuchi (just right of the center in the photograph) is a triple star located at the southern end of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. It is embedded in a large blue reflection nebulosity designated IC 4604. South and somewhat to the east of rho Ophiuchi is the orange-glowing red-giant star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpio, it is embedded in yellow reflection nebulosity. Sigma Scorpii is another bright star west and slightly north of Antares which is surrounded by red emission nebulosity which is designated Sh2-9. There are also other fainter patches of emission and reflection in this region as can be seen in the photograph.

The globular cluster of stars directly west of Antares is the globular star cluster M4. Two more globular clusters of stars can be seen in this photograph, they look almost like stars: M80 west and slightly to the north of rho Ophiuchi and NGC 6144 west and slightly to the north of Antares.

The Antares - M4 Region, refractor photograph.
IC 4604 - Rho Ophiuchus Nebula, Wright-Newtonian photograph

Exposure Data

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© 2010 Walter Koprolin