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Constellations: Scutum -- The Shield of a Polish King


We define myth as a story out of time that conveys a culture's sense of ultimate reality. Scutum may reflect ultimate reality, but it is rooted in history. King John III Sobieski, king of Poland fought a battle on September 12, 1683 against the forces of the Ottoman Empire. It took place just north of Vienna. King John led not just his own troops, but those of other European nations. He won a decisive victory, checking the Ottoman's expansion into Europe, and saving it from the Islamic "infidel." Johannes Hevelius, who died a scant four years after the battle knew King John II of Poland (John III's father?). Hevelius' fifty page atlas, the Firmamentum Sobiescum was published in 1690. It contained seven new constellations, Scutum being one of them.


Each map can be clicked on to produce a 916x1200 version of it. They sport red labels, which look good on screen, but which disappear when used with red flashlights. Each map, therefore has a second link to a map better suited for printing in a graphics program, and using in the field. While they are quite large, they are all about 50k, and so are easy to view at today's modem speeds. The first map is a wide area view of the constellation, suitable for naked eye browsing. The next views are binocular width, showing stars to mag. 10, deepsky objects to mag. 12.9, and labeling deepsky objects to magnitude 12.

Interactive, wide area map of Scutum

Map thumbnail

Click the map for a 916x1200 version of the above. Click here for a map better suited for use in the field.

A Detailed View

Map thumbnail

This a more detailed view of the constellation. The map displays stars to magnitude 10, and deepsky objects to magnitude 12. Click here for a map better suited for use in the field.


Image thumbnail 37k JPEG. NGC6712 (Bennett 117, Best 87) is a globular cluster located just south of the Scutum Star Cloud. Dreyer calls it fairly bright (mag. 8.2), very large (7.2'), irregular, and very gradually brightening a little toward the middle. Dreyer also gives it three Rs, meaning it is extremely resolvable. Whatever Dreyer may have thought, this particular cluster needs at least a 10" to resolve into stars. The cluster shines through a rich Milky Way field.
Map Printable Map

Image thumbnail 91k JPEG. M11 (NGC6705, Bennett 116) is a lovely open cluster located in northeastern Scutum. Called the Wild Duck, because Admiral Smyth on a more sleep deprived night, thought the main body of the cluster resembled a flock of wild ducks, Dreyer described it as very bright (mag. 5.8), large (14'), irregular, rich with stars at about mag. 9. This cluster looks good in any scope. From the Digital Sky Survey.

M11 sits on the northern border of the Scutum Star Cloud. Extending over 4° of sky, the entire area rewards people with binoculars.
Map Printable Map More info.

Image thumbnail 88k JPEG. Barnard 318 is a dark nebula that snakes south and east of M11 for about 1.5°. The image from the Digital Sky Survey has been enhanced considerably to bring it out, but the object is fairly easy at low power.
Map Printable Map

Image thumbnail 39k JPEG. M26 (NGC6694) is an open cluster located .8° E of the mag. 4.7 star Delta Scuti. At mag. 8 overall and 15' in size, Dreyer describes it as pretty rich, pretty condensed, with stars at mag. 12-15. The image is from SEDS.
Map Printable Map More info.


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