The Scorpion is among the few constellations in which one can recognize the animal that it is supposed to symbolize. The scorpion with its tall stinger can be seen in its full glory only from southern latitudes – in northern latitudes large parts of his body remain below the horizon or at least in the horizon haze.
Under optimal conditions, the 6.5m bright M 4 is visible even with the naked eye. The globular cluster has a diameter of about 10 arc minutes and is easy to find if you go 1.3° to the west of Antares. It forms a flat triangle with Antares and ρ Scorpii. In a 7 × 50 you can see a chain of stars running through its center, and at 15x magnification the first single stars can be seen in a binocular. M 4 is only 7,000 light-years away and one of the nearest globular clusters. Its diameter is about 40 light-years.
You need an excellent view of the horizon or an observation location in the south to see the two open clusters M 6 and M 7 – then they are a pretty pair that still fits into the field of view of binoculars.
The 4.0m bright Butterfly cluster M 6 is 20 arcmin in diameter and shows „wings“ that emanate from a more dense „body“. It is about 1,500 light-years away from the Sun, between our spiral arm and the Sagittarius-Carina arm of our galaxy.
M 7 can be found 3.5° southeast of M 6. Despite its brightness of 3.0m, it can be even more difficult to see because of the haze at the horizon. It has a diameter of 1.3° and is located in a spectacular star field that belongs to the central bulge of our galaxy. About one third of its 80 stars are bright enough to be visible in binoculars. M 7 is the southernmost Messier object and is 850 light-years away from us.
M 80 lies in a rich star field in the far north of the Scorpion, halfway between Antares and β Scorpii. The 26,000 light-years distant globular cluster appears in smaller binoculars as a 5 arcmin large, round patch of light. It resembles a bright, small comet. M 80 is one of the few globular clusters in which a nova was observed – on May 21st, 1860, T Scorpii shortly reached 6.8m, today its brightness is constant again at 12.0m.
To the west, between M80 and ρ Ophiuchi, is a vast dark cloud that William Herschel described as a „hole in the sky“.