05 July 2021
1. Libra means ‘scales’ in Latin
2. Evidence suggests recognition of the constellation since 4,000 years ago
3. It is one of the few ancient constellations representing an inanimate object
4. Hosts the largest known planetary system outside our solar system, Gliese 581
5. One of its stars, Methuselah, is known as the oldest star in the universe
The constellation of Libra makes up a scale’s balancing beam and weighing pans, though the unaided observer is likely to distinguish it solely from the quadrangle it forms. The constellation consists of 6 main stars, with the brightest being Arcturus, a red giant radiating more than 100 times the light of our sun.
It is one of the 12 Greek Zodiac constellations, and is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, from April to July in the former and autumn to winter’s end in the latter.
Unlike most other constellations, there lies no known Greek mythology behind the constellation of Libra dates even further back than ancient Greece, to the ancient Babylonians who are guessed to have seen the constellation as a representation of balance between the seasons, as well as that between day and night.
The Constellation of Libra is situated in the northern sky’s third quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -90 to +65 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Scorpius, Virgo, Hydra, and Ophiuchus.
Of the 6 main stars it consists, there exists three celestial bodies of note: Zuben Elschemali, a whitish-blue main sequence star that’s twice as hot as the sun; Zuben Elgnubi, a double-star composed of two binary systems (entailing four stars in total); and Brachium, a red giant that lies 300 lightyears away from Earth.