SCUTUM (Pronounced SKOO-tem or SKYOO-tem) "The Shield"
This constellation was originally Scutum Sobiescianum and represents the shield of the Polish king-hero John Sobieski III. It was introduced by the Polish astronomer Hevelius about 1690, and contains rich star clouds of the Milky Way.
Scutum is a difficult constellation to find visually since its brightest star is rather dim at magnitude 3.85. On a clear dark night way from city lights when the Moon is out of the sky, Scutum may be picked out between the bright stars Altair and Antares.
Chart showing Scutum between Antares and Altair as seen to the north
from New Zealand at about midnight in mid July and 10 pm mid August.
Some stars and interesting objects in the Constellation
α Scuti is a magnitude 3.85 orange giant star 174 light years away.
β Sct is a magnitude 4.23 white star 690 years away.
δ Sct is the prototype of a rare class of variable stars which pulsate in size every few hours leading to similar small brightness changes. This star's brightness varies between magnitudes 4.7 and 4.85 every 4 hours 40 minutes. It lies about 187 light years away.
M 11 (NGC 6705), the Wild Duck Cluster, is an attractive open cluster of around 500 stars well suited to small telescopes. Kirch first saw it in 1681 while Messier thought it contained a large number of small stars with a brighter leader. Admiral Smyth thought the cluster resembled a "flight of wild ducks". While it lies in a starry field, it is well separated from it. Binoculars show it as a misty patch and small telescopes show a noticeable fan shape. It lies about 6000 light-years away.
M 26 (NGC 6694) is a cluster of fairly bright stars about 5000 light years away. It appears as a gathering of about 40 stars in a field scattered with stars.
NGC 6712 is a moderately bright globular cluster that can be resolved into stars with a 20 cm. telescope. There seems to be a dark lane running into the eastern region of the cluster, almost appearing to cut off a portion. The distance is estimated at around 25,000 light-years.
At its highest, the small constellation Scutum has an altitude between 50° and 60° as seen from New Zealand. It is due north about 11.30 pm in mid July and at about 8.30 pm by the end of August. The constellation remains visible in the early evening sky until the end of October.