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

NGC6124
Caldwell75
Object TypeOpen Cluster
ConstellationScorpius
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 - February 2017

Comets
Comet Encke (2P/Encke) now visible in the western sky during evening twilight
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades

Conjunction
Mars passes less than 1 degree north of Uranus on February 27th

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for February 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Venus (mag. -4.8), Mars (mag. +1.1 to +1.3), Uranus (mag. +5.9)
Midnight
East:- Jupiter (mag. -2.1 to -2.3)
Morning
South:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus, Mars, Uranus
Midnight
East:- Jupiter
Morning
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn, Mercury (mag. -0.2 - first half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
The Hyades - Open Cluster
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
Messier 35 - M35 - Open Cluster
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)

Small telescopes:-
Messier 36 - M36 - Open Cluster
Messier 37 - M37 - Open Cluster
Messier 38 - M38 - Open Cluster

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