NGC 6124, mag. +5.8, is a fine open cluster located in the constellation of Scorpius. It's faintly visible to the naked eye, appearing as a hazy unresolved patch of light, and a superb sight in binoculars and small telescopes. The cluster covers 29 arc minutes of apparent sky, which is equivalent to the apparent diameter of the full Moon. In total, NGC 6124 contains over 100 stars and is fully resolvable in large amateur scopes. This rewarding cluster would almost certainly be much better known if it weren't located at such a southerly declination.

NGC 6124 was discovered by Nicholas Louis de Lacaille during his 1751-1752 journey to South Africa. It's best seen from southern and equatorial locations during the months of May, June and July.

NGC 6124 (credit:- Roberto Mura)

Finder Chart for NGC 6124 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 6124 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Positioned in the southwestern corner of Scorpius, NGC 6124 is close to the Norma and Lupus constellation boundaries. Red supergiant Antares (α Sco - mag. +1.0), the brightest star in Scorpius, is positioned 14 degrees directly to the north.

Binoculars reveal a large round patch of light that hints on resolution. Switching between direct and averted vision causes a sprinkling of stars to pop in and out of view. Through a 100mm (4-inch) refractor, many members are resolvable including several 9th magnitude examples at the centre. A 200mm (8-inch) scope reveals a loose cluster of dozens of stars that easily fills the eyepiece field of view. There are several nice chains visible and a few lovely pairs of double stars. Even larger scopes, resolve the cluster completely.

NGC 6124 is number 75 in the Caldwell catalogue. It's 1,670 light-years distant and spans 15 light-years in actual diameter.

NGC 6124 Data Table

Object TypeOpen Cluster
Distance (light-years)1,670
Apparent Mag.+5.8
RA (J2000)16h 25m 20s
DEC (J2000)-40d 39m 13s
Apparent Size (arc mins)29
Radius (light-years)7.5
Age (years)140 Million
Number of Stars125
Other NamesCollinder 301, Melotte 145

Sky Highlights - March 2017

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak now visible with binoculars as it heads towards perihelion

Mercury heading towards greatest elongation east

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for March 2017

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (mag. -4.8 to -4.1 - first half of month), Mars (mag. +1.3 to +1.5), Uranus (mag. +5.9), Mercury (mag. -1.5 to -0.4 - second half of month)
Southeast:- Jupiter (mag. -2.3 to -2.5)
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (first half of month), Mars, Uranus
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +8.0 - second half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

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