All About The Scorpius Constellation
Scorpius constellation is one of the brightest constellations in the sky. It is the 33rd constellation in size and is bordered by Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Ophiuchus, Ara, Libra, Norma and Lupus. It is also one of the 48 constellations identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the Almagest. Scorpius derives its roots from Latin meaning “creature with the burning sting.” The Babylonians called the Scorpius constellation MUL.GIR.TAB which means “Scorpion.” In Akkadian, the scorpion is called zuqaqīpu which means ‘to erect or rise up’ referring to the raised stinger of the scorpion. For centuries, many have been intrigued by the constellation due to its distinctive shape and brightness.
Scorpius Constellation Location
Scorpius constellation is located in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way. Antares, the brightest star in the constellation, makes the heart of Scorpio. Shaula and Lesath towards the left form the tail with the raised stinger.
The coordinates of the constellation are 16h 53m 15s, −30° 44′ 12.″ The right ascension is16.8875h and the declination is −30.7367°
By Till Credner - Own work: AlltheSky.com
Major Stars of Scorpius Constellation
Scorpius constellation has about 18 main stars and 14 stars with planets. It contains some of the brightest stars in the sky that are even visible with naked eye. Here are some of the major stars in the Scorpius constellation.
Antares (Alpha Scorpii)
Antares is the 15th brightest star in the sky and the brightest object in the Scorpius constellation. It is a distinct reddish giant star visible with naked eye. The apparent visual magnitude of the star is 0.6 - 1.6+ 5.5.
Although it may appear as a single star, Antares is in reality a binary star composed of Scorpii A and α Scorpii B.
The name Antares comes from ancient Greek, meaning “like Mars” or “rival to Mars.” This is because of its reddish hue that gives it an appearance of planet Mars which is known for its rusty red color.
Graffias (Beta Scorpii)
Also known as Acrab, Graffias is a multi star system in the Scorpius constellation. Graffias means “claws” in Italian and Acrab refers to “scorpion” in Arabic.
Graffias has an absolute magnitude of –3.92 / –2.60 and the apparent visual magnitude of 4.92. The stars in the Graffias system have an average age of 11 million years and are located at a distance of 470 light years.
Shaula (Lambda Scorpii)
Shaula is the second brightest star in the Scorpius constellation. It is also one of the brightest stars in the sky. Shaula is derived from Arabic, meaning “tail,” referring to the tail of the scorpion.
Located about 570 light years away from the Sun, Shaula is a triple star system in the constellation. Both Shaula and Lesath when combined make the Stinger pair.
An interesting fact about Shaula is that it may perhaps eventually explode into a white dwarf. This is because the star is quickly changing and may have stopped hydrogen fusion in its core.
Dschubba (Delta Scorpii)
Dschubba is one of the brightest stars near Antares. It is also one of the three stars forming the head of the Scorpius. Dschubba is about 10 million years old and about 13 times the mass of the Sun. The star is spinning rapidly and is throwing off a lot of luminous gases.
In 1981, Dschubba was occulted by Saturn’s rings and showed little spaces in the main ring system. Since June 2000 when it was first observed by Sebastian Otero, the brightness of Dschubba has increased from 0.1 magnitude to 1.6.
Sargas (Theta Scorpii)
Sargas is also one of the brightest stars in the sky. It’s mass is 5.7 times that of the Sun and it is 1.2 times hotter than the Sun. It is located about 300 light years away from the Earth.
Sargas is rapidly evolving and swelling. In less than a million year, it may become a red giant, many times brighter than its current brightness. As the helium from its core begins to fuse to carbon and oxygen, Sargas may also eventually become a white dwarf.
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In Greek mythology, Orion was a mighty hunter who, once on a hunting trip with hunter goddess Artemis, enthusiastically boasted that he would kill all animals on earth. Artemis then sent a scorpion to kill Orion. In another version, Apollo, Artemis’ brother was the one who sent the scorpion after Orion. It is also believed that Gaea, the earth goddess, got angry and sent the scorpion for Orion.
Zeus intervened in the battle and made Orion and Scorpion into a constellation. Both constellations lie opposite to each other in the sky.
The Scorpion is also mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh where the gates of the sun god are guarded by the scorpion-people. The gate signals an underground tunnel that makes its way into the world of immortals.