All About Libra Constellation

The scales in the sky! The Libra constellation represented by the scales sign is located in Southern Hemisphere. It is also a Zodiacal constellation. This constellation was first discovered in the second century CE and cataloged by the astronomer Ptolemy. The name of the constellation originated from the Latin meaning "the weighing scales." It is generally depicted as the weighing scales being held by the Goddess of Justice known as Dike or Astraeia, belonging to the neighboring Constellation Virgo.

Mythology of the Libra Constellation

The heading may be confusing cause there is no mythology in the Libra constellation. It is the only constellation in the sky represented by an animate object, which is the scales. There are four major stars in the constellation that form a hierarchy. The stars are distinguished as Alpha Librae, Beta Librae, Gemma Librae, and Sigma Librae. The stars alpha and beta denote the beam that holds the scales, while the Gemma and beta are represented as the scale pans.

Libra Constellation

By Till Credner - Own work:

Location and Facts:

Even though the Constellation Libra doesn't consist of any significant first magnitude stars, however, within the constellation's hemisphere exists the oldest star ever known, which is called the Methuselah Star.

Libra occupies 538 square degrees in the area and is the 29th constellation according to size. You can see this constellation at +65 degrees and -90 degrees latitude. Furthermore, it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, known as SQ3. It is surrounded by a vast range of constellations that include the following:

  • Hydra
  • Ophiuchus
  • Serpens Caput
  • Virgo
  • Scorpius
  • Lupus
  • Centaurus

Libra constellation also belongs to the Zodiac family.

The May Librids:

This constellation consists of only three stars with their planets, and it doesn't include any Messier objects. Zubeneschamalia, also known as the beta librea is the brightest star inside the constellation. This particular star has a magnitude of 2.61. May Librids is the only meteor shower that is associated with this constellation.

Other Stars

Formally the constellation consists of four stars. The International Astronomical Union has approved the names of all the stars. The names of the stars are mentioned below:

  • Zubenelhakrabi
  • Zubeneschamali
  • Brachium
  • Zubenelgenubi


The Ancient Greeks are known to have known about this constellation's existence; only they called it Chalae, which means "claws." However, they considered it to be a part of the neighboring Zodiacal Sign Scorpio. They thought of it as being the claw of the Scorpio. Hence it became known as "The Claw."

In the first century BC, Romans were the people who associated this part of the sky with the scales. It’s believed that the moon was in Virgo when Rome was founded. The Romans associated with the constellation libra as a favorable one due to its association with the balance of the seasons, and the length of day and night is equal.

The Babylonians discovered the association of this constellation with the balance much before Romans labeled it. Nearly a thousand years BC, the Babylonians who called it ZIM.BA.AN.NA., which means "balance of heavens," were the ones to associate it with the scales. Once the constellation's association with the scales became more substantial, the Scorpio's Claw theory faded slowly. In contrast, the one association of this constellation with the Greek Goddess of Justice Dike or Astraeia, represented by the Constellation Virgo, grew stronger.

In the memory of the fact that it was once associated with the Constellation Scorpio, Beta Libra, the brightest star in Libra, known as the Zubeneschamali, is translated in Arabic as "the Northern Claw." In contrast, Zubenelgenubi, the Alpha Librea, translates as "the southern claw."


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Major stars in Libra Constellation:

Beta Librea – β Zubeneschamali:

The brightest star in the whole Constellation is Beta Librae. It has a magnitude of 2.61, while it is 185 light-years farther from the solar system approximately. It is a blue-white dwarf since it has an exceptional classification of B8 V. It has a rotational velocity of 250km/s and is a very fast-moving or rotating star. What is extraordinary is that it is 130 times more luminous than the sun, approximately and is 4.9 times the sun's radius.

Beta Librae is considered as a single star; however, variations of luminosity prove the existence of a smaller companion star with a magnitude of 0.03.

There are two variations in the name of the star. One comes from the Arabic word al-zuban-al-samaliyya, which stands for "the Northern Claw." And the second name comes from Latin, known as Lanx Borealis, meaning "the Northern Scale.

Alpha Librae – α Zubenelgenubi:

The second brightest star in the Libra constellation is the Alpha Librae. It consists of a multiple star system that has two brightest components, making it a binary star. These stars share a proper motion of leads through space. It is suspected that these two stars belong to the Castor Moving Group of Stars, sharing a common origin of over 200 million years ago.

This star's name originated from the Arabic phrase al-zuban al-janubiyy, which translates into "the southern claw." Kiffa Australis or Elkhiffa Australis are also two names that it is known by. Both these names come from the Arabic phrase Al-kiffah al-janubiyy and are partial translations of the Latin language. Akiffah al- janubiyy stands for “the southern pan(of the scales). An older Latin version of the name is Lanx Australis, or "the southern scale."

Sigma Librea – σ Brachium Librea:

This star has a magnificent M3/M4 III classification, which means it's a red giant star. It consists of a magnitude of 3.29 and is 288 light-years away from the sun approximately. It is known by three types of names; Brachium, the traditional name, means arm in Latin. The second name is Corno, which means horn in Latin. Finally, the third name Zubenalgubi, comes from the Arabic dialect and means "the Southern Claw."


Libra is a distinctive constellation and has an association with a unique inanimate object, "the scales." This constellation stands apart from all the others and doesn't have a mythological story behind it, as some stars do.