The Libra Constellation
From The Claws Of Scorpius
To The Scales Of Justice

Libra is Latin for scales. The Libra constellation while known as the beam balance also represents the balance of the cosmos.

Libra was an ancient Roman measure of weight. The abbreviation of which is LBThis become the symbol for the pound. The uncia, a bronze Roman coin, would become "ounce".

Libra is considered to depict the scales held by Astraea, the goddess of justice, from the Virgo constellation.

It is the only zodiac constellation not animal nor human. Originally though Libra was the claws of Scorpius the scorpion.

Situated between Virgo in the west and Scorpius to the east. It's bounded by Serpens Caput, Hydra, Lupus, Ophiuchus and a small part of Centaurus.

Libra's status as the location of the autumnal equinox earned the equinox the name "First Point of Libra”. Similarly the vernal equinox is known as the “First Point Of Aries”.  The autumnal equinox is now in Virgo due to precession.  During the equinox the 24 hour period is balanced equally between day and night.

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libra constellation stars
libra constellation outline

This constellation is fairly faint, with no stars of magnitude 1 or brighter.

Right Ascension: 15 hours

Declination: -15 degrees

Visible between latitudes +65 and -90 degrees

Best seen in June at 9:00 PM local time

Named Stars: Zuben Elgenubi (Alpha 2 Librae) Zuben Elschemali (Beta Librae) Zuben Elakrab (Gamma Librae) Zuben Elakribi (Delta Librae) Brachium (Sigma Librae)

Zuben Elgenubi, is a binary star divisible in binoculars. The primary is a blue-white star of magnitude 2.7 and the secondary is a white star of magnitude 5.2. Its traditional name means "the southern claw".  

Zuben Eschamali is the corresponding "northern claw" to Zuben Elgenubi. The brightest star in Libra, it is a green-tinged star of magnitude 2.6, 160 light-years from Earth.

Gamma Librae is called Zuben Elakrab(Zuben-Al-Akrab), which means "the scorpion's claw”.  These names are from the original thought as Libra being Scorpius' claws.

Libra is home to many variable stars, as well as several other binary and double stars.

Iota Librae is a complex multiple star. A binary star with an optical double.

The primary appears as a blue-white star of magnitude 4.5; it itself is a binary star indivisible in even the largest amateur instruments.

The secondary, visible in small telescopes as a star of magnitude 9.4, is also a binary with two components, magnitudes 10 and 11. So this is actually a four star system, with an optical double.

The optical companion to Iota Librae is a star of magnitude 6.1, visible in binoculars.

In a good small to medium sized telescope you should be able to see 4 of the five stars.

Mu Librae is a binary star divisible in medium-aperture backyard scopes. The primary is of magnitude 5.7 and the secondary is of magnitude 6.8.

The Libra constellation is home to one bright globular cluster, NGC5897.

Gliese 581 a red dwarf star slightly north of Beta Librae, has a planetary system of at least 6 planets.

Gliese 581c is considered to be the first Earth-like planet to be found within its parent star's habitable zone.

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