Scutum Constellation does not contain any named stars and has one star with a confirmed exoplanet, COROT-17. With no stars brighter than magnitude 3.00 or located within 10 parsecs, the brightest star in the constellation is Alpha Scuti, with an apparent magnitude of 3.85, and the nearest star is LHS 3398, located 41.54 light years away from Earth.
The constellation is home to two Messier objects — Messier 11 and Messier 26 — as well as the variable star Delta Scuti and to two red supergiants. There is one meteor shower associated with the constellation — the June Scutids.
History and Mythology of the Scutum Constellation
The constellation first appeared charted in the scientific journal Acta Eruditorum in August 1684. Scutum is not related to any Greek myths and is the only constellation associated with a non-classical historical figure — the king of Poland John III Sobieski. Johannes Hevelius named it after him to commemorate the king’s victory in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Location of the Scutum Constellation
The constellation of Scutum is the 84th largest constellation in the night sky and occupies an area of 109 square degrees. It is located in the fourth quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ4) and can be seen at latitudes between +80° and -90°. Its right ascension is 18.7h and its declination is −10°. It is best seen at 9pm, during the month of August.
Scutum’s neighboring constellations are Aquila, Sagittarius and Serpens. It belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Aquila, Ara, Centaurus, Corona Australis, Corvus, Crater, Crux, Cygnus, Hercules, Hydra, Lupus, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Sagitta, Sextans, Serpens, Triangulum Australe and Vulpecula.
Ionnina, also known as Alpha Scuti, is the brightest star in the constellation of Scutum and has an apparent magnitude of 3.85. It is an orange giant with the stellar classification K2III and is also a known variable star. Its brightness varies by about 10 percent.
Ionnina is located around 174 light years away from Earth and has a luminosity 132 times the Sun and a mass that is 1.7 times that of the Sun. It used to belong to the Aquila constellation and was designated 1 Aquilae, and is thought to be at least 2 billion years old.
Beta Scuti is the second brightest star in the Scutum constellation and has an apparent magnitude of 4.22. It is a yellow bright giant star with the stellar classification G5II. It also used to belong to the Aquila constellation and was designated 6 Aquilae. This star is located around 690 light years distant from the Solar System and is around 1,270 times more luminous than the Sun.
Zeta Scuti is the third brightest star in the constellation of Scutum and has an apparent magnitude of 4.68. It is a yellow giant with the stellar classification G9 IIIb Fe-0.5 and is around 207 light years away form the Sun. Zeta Scuti is also an astrometric binary system, which means it seemingly orbits around an empty space without a visible companion. Its orbiting period is 6.5 years.
Gamma Scuti is the fourth brightest star in Scutum and has an apparent magnitude of 4.67. It is a white subgiant star belonging to the stellar class A1IV/V and is located about 291 light years away from Earth.
Delta Scuti is a yellow-white giant star with the stellar classification of F2 IIIp. It is a well known variable and one that serves as a prototype for an entire class of variables, the Delta Scuti variables. They are also sometimes known as dwarf Cepheids. These stars show fluctuations in luminosity as a result of both radial and non-radial pulsations.
Delta Scuti has a mass that is 2.23 times that of the Sun and has an apparent magnitude of 4.72. Its brightness varies by 0.2 magnitudes over a period of 0.19377 days.
It is located around 202 light years away from the Solar System and has two line-of-sight companions. One is located 15.2 arc seconds away and has a magnitude of 12.2 and the other is located 53 arc seconds away and has a magnitude of 9.2.
Epsilon Scuti is a multiple star system with the stellar classification of G8II. It is located around 523 light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 4.88.
The primary component is a class G bright giant and there are at least three companions. They are two magnitude 14 stars separated by 13.6 and 15.4 arc seconds and a 13th magnitude star separated by 38 arc seconds.
Eta Scuti is an orange giant belonging to the spectral class K1III with an apparent magnitude of 4.83. It has a mass that is 1.4 times that of the Sun and a radius that is more than 10 times that of the Sun. It is thought to be around 2.8 billion years old and is located around 207 light years away from us.
R Scuti is a yellow supergiant star with the classification of an RV Tauri variable that was discovered by the English astronomer Edward Pigott in 1795. It has an apparent magnitude that ranges from 4.2 to 8.6 and is the brightest RV Tauri variable known (a luminous pulsating variable star with distinctive light variations). At its brightest, it can be seen without binoculars.
R Scuti is located about a degree to the northwest of Messier 11 and is approximately 1,400 light years away from the Sun. It is 9,400 times more luminous than the Sun and has 87.4 times the Sun’s radius.
PSR B1829-10 is a pulsar, which is a magnetized rotating neutron star emitting a beam of electromagnetic radiation. With a mass 1.4 times that of the Sun, it is located around 30,000 light years away from the Sun. It has an apparent magnitude of 5.28.
Deep Sky Objects
Wild Duck Cluster
The Wild Duck Cluster, also known as Messier 11, M11 or NGC 6705, is an open cluster that is one of the richest, most compact open clusters known. It was first discovered by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch in 1681 and included in Messier’s catalogue in 1764.
The Wild Duck Cluster has an apparent magnitude of 6.3 and is located approximately 6,200 light years away from the Sun. It is thought to be about 220 million years old and contains about 2,900 stars.
Its name comes from the brightest stars in the cluster which form a triangle, which could represent a flock of wild ducks.
Messier 26, also known as M26 or NGC 6694, is an open cluster that was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 and included in his catalogue. It has an apparent magnitude of 8.0 and the brightest star in the cluster has an apparent magnitude of 11.9. It is around 5,000 light years away from Earth and is believed to be about 89 million years old. Messier 26 is also 22 light years across in diameter.
NGC 6712 is a globular cluster that was first discovered by the French astronomer Le Gentil in July 1749, and then later independently discovered by the German-British astronomer William Herschel on June 16, 1784. It is located around 22,500 light years away from the Solar System and has a visual magnitude of 8.69.
IC 1295 is a planetary nebula with a white dwarf as the central star. It has an apparent magnitude of 12.7 and is located about 3,300 light years away from Earth. The white dwarf is currently in the process of shedding its outer layers, which is both dim and dying.
RSGC1 is an open cluster in the Milky Way Galaxy which contains 14 massive stars on the verge of exploding as supernovae — 12 red supergiant stars, one yellow hypergiant and one intermediate. The cluster is at least 20,000 times as massive as the Sun and each red supergiant is about 20 times the Sun’s mass.
RSGC1 is located around 22,000 light years away from us and cannot be seen in visible light. It is one of the most massive known clusters in our galaxy and is thought to be 10 to 14 million years old.
Stephenson 2, also known as RSGC2, is a young open cluster that cannot be observed in visible light and was discovered in 1990 using data obtained in an infrared survey. It is thought to be 14 to 20 million years old and is around 20,000 light years away from us. It contains 26 red supergiants and is home to Stephenson 2-18, one of the largest stars known.
RSGC3 is a massive young open cluster that, like RSGC1, cannot be observed in visible light. It is located 22,000 light years away from Earth and was discovered in 2010. It contains 8 to 14 red supergiant stars, although at least 30 more red supergiants have been detected in the vicinity of the cluster.
Alicante 8, also known as RSGC4, is a young massive open cluster and one of the most massive open clusters known in the Milky Way. Like RSGC1, it cannot be observed in visible light and contains 8 to 13 red supergiant stars. RSGC4 is thought to be between 16-20 million years old and was first discovered in 2010. It is located around 20,000 light years away from Earth.
Mercer 3 is a globular cluster that was discovered in an infrared survey in 2008 and is about 12 billion years old. It is heavily obscured as it is embedded in the disk of the Milky Way.
- Some Images created with the NightVision app – https://www.nvastro.com/nvj.html
- Some Images created with the Stelvision Sky Map https://www.stelvision.com/en/sky-map/
- Scutum 1 – https://starregistration.net/constellations/scutum-constellation.html
- Scutum 2 – https://in-the-sky.org/data/constellation.php?id=76
- Ionnina – https://theskylive.com/sky/stars/alpha-scuti-star
- Beta Scuti – https://theskylive.com/sky/stars/beta-scuti-star
- Zeta Scuti – https://theskylive.com/sky/stars/zeta-scuti-star
- Gamma Scuti – https://theskylive.com/sky/stars/gamma-scuti-star
- Wild Duck Cluster – https://earthsky.org/clusters-nebulae-galaxies/wild-duck-cluster-deep-sky-gem-by-eagles-tail
- IC 1295 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IC_1295