The Scorpius constellation

The Scorpius constellation

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

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(Blog No.45).

#find North, #finding North, #direction, #by stars, #Scorpius, #Antares, #Sagittarius, #Ara, #navigation, #constellation.

Celestial navigators who do not use declination and right ascension begin their navigation by learning the various bright, easily identifiable constellations in the sky (There are no more than 10 to learn.). The Scorpius is usually chosen to be the second constellation to be learned since it is as large as Orion and is useful when Orion is out of sight.

The Scorpius is a crowded, large Southern constellation of June. Part of it is always seen in the sky of June for the whole night, attains its highest elevation (or altitude) about midnight and is immediately South of the most Southern point of the Ecliptic. Scorpius can be seen on the rising side before sunrise in January, seen for the whole night in May and seen on the setting side after sunset in November.

It has the size of 30 degree (in angle) and has the shape of a hook oriented 55 degree clockwise from the great circle arc through the Celestial poles. Arabian sky watchers see a resembling to the body and tail of a (now declawed) scorpion and gave it the name Scorpius.

The brightest star of Scorpius is Antares but it is so close to the ecliptic that it is often outshone by the Moon and bright planets traveling on the ecliptic. Antares often requires extra care for proper identification. Identifying Antares give a good practice to star identifying.

1. The Scorpius on a Mercator sky-map.


Figure 1: The Scorpio constellation is in the shape of a hook, is close to the ecliptic and one third from the left edge of this Mercator sky-map.

Figure 2: A common Asian scorpion.

The Scorpius has too many stars and its brightest star Antares can even be over-shone by planets wandering near to it. Therefore its identification often requires additional care.

An observer in the Southern hemisphere can check that the hook shaped stinging tail of the Scorpius is just touching the great circle arc (drawn in yellow) through the two Pointers to the Southern Cross.

Figure 3: The Scorpius is seen as a hook in the top left quadrant of this Polar Inversion map of the Southern hemisphere. Its hook shaped stinging tail is just touching the great circle arc (drawn in yellow) through the two Pointers to the Southern Cross.

2. An alternative method of recognizing stars in the Scorpius

Figure 1: Scorpius Sagittarius and Ara are easily recognized together.

I found that it is easier to recognize the bright stars of three constellations Scorpius, Sagittarius and Ara together. They resemble a tree with two side roots rising at right angle from a ground line.

The two brightest stars of all three constellations are Antares and Shaula in the Scorpius.They are separated by 17 degrees in angle. They line up with two other dim stars to form a straight line (delta Scorpius, Antares, Shaula and kappa Scorpius) which is slightly longer.

The South-trailing end of this line continues to be the bisector of a right angle line formed by five stars zeta Sagittarius, Kaus Australis, Shaula, theta Scorpius, alpha Ara.

The line of two brightest stars looks like a tree sticking up at right angle to the ground line formed by dimmer stars in line with alpha and epsilon Ara. The tree has two side roots (Shaula-Kaus Australis. and Shaula-theta Scorpius-alpha Ara) originating from Shaula and each is at 45 degree from the tree trunk.

After the bright stars have been identified, each constellation can be identified using its conventional map as given in [1] and [2].

3. Taking photos of the Scorpius.

The Scorpius is adequately bright and its photos can be taken using a smart phone such as a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with no extra attachment.

Figure 1: A photo of the Scorpius Constellation taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. This photo was added on 2018Feb26 and has been digitally enhanced.

The Scorpius constellation is in the center of this picture. There are four brightest dots on the top half of this picture. The far right and far left dots are very bright and are two planets traveling on the ecliptic. The planets on the ecliptic sometimes make it hard to identify this constellation. (This added photo was taken on 2018 Feb 26).


Figure 2: Photo of the Scorpius Constellation taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The original photo was taken prior to 2017Jan09 and has been digitally enhanced.


Figure 2: Another photo of the Scorpius Constellation taken with Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The original photo was taken prior to 2017Jan09 and has been digitally enhanced. There are three bright dots in a straight line at the top of the first photo. The two on the left are two planets on the ecliptic. The third one on the right is delta Scorpius. Antares is the bright dot under the three in line.

4. Easy identification of Scorpius by a slide sky map.


Figure 1: The Scorpius position by the Mercator slide sky map, with an altitude grid for an observer on 10 deg North (South of India, Thailand, Malaysia, South of Vietnam, the Phillipines, Central America) .

Observers who are not quite familiar with the Scorpius constellation can use the slide sky map described in reference [2] to confirm its identity. The latitude of the observer, time, and North direction are required for identification using a slide sky map. The figure here gives its altitude (elevation) and its orientation at the time of the first photo of the preceding section.


[1]. tonytran2015, Finding North and time by stars in the tropics,,Finding North and time by stars in the tropics, posted on May 25, 2016

[2]. tonytran2015, Slide Sky-Map for displaying tropical stars,, Slide Sky-Map for displaying tropical stars., posted on October 7, 2016

[3]. tonytran2015, Finding North and time by stars,,Finding North and time by stars, posted on August 28, 2015

[4]. The Orion constellation., posted December 26, 2016


, posted on

Circumpolar Stars Nth

The Orion constellation., posted December 26, 2016,


posted on October 21, 2016




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