Libra (Pronounciation:Lib-rah, Abbrev:Lib, Latin:Librae) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Libra takes up 538.052 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 1.3% of the night sky. Libra is the 29th largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Scales . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.
There are 6 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 1316 stars. There are 49 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Libra is a member constellation of the Zodiac grouping, a group of 12 star signs that astrologers use to predict someones future based on their date of birth and which constellation appeared when the Sun set. The Zodiac year may be divided up equally between the twelve signs but when they appear in the night sky no longer conforms to the Zodiac calendar. Libra is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.
There are no deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.
The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.
You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 75.80 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 497.20 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 238.89 light years.
The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.
The nearest star to Earth is Gliese 570 A which is roughly about 19.05 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is Gliese 570 which is about 19.05 Light Years.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 76117 and it is 326163.3 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Libra with the naked eye is 47 Librae. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 5.95. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.
Libra has some of the oldest stars in the the milky way, one of the leading candidates for the title is Methuselah Star which had been calculated as being older than the Universe itself. However, it can't be older than the actual universe so it is probably created just after the birth of the galaxy. It had been theorized that the star is from another galaxy that was consumed by out galaxy. Ref: Space.
One of the most intriguing stars in the cosmos can be found in this constellation. That star is Zubeneschamali, the brightest star in the constellation although it only has the Beta designation. The star according to some people is Green but others discount the possibility that such a star can be green.
Colours of stars are normally Red, Orange, Yellow, White, Blue and including variations of those colours. Have a look and see what you think. If it is green then its the most unique star so far. We may discover when our telescopes are a little more advanced than they are now but its green is put down to atmospheric and space influences.
As you might have already noticed that the three most prominent stars in the constellation all begin with Zubene. The Zubene means claw and what does that have to do with scales? When the stars were first named, they were originally part of the Scorpius constellation and they were identified as Northern Claw, Claws of the Scorpion and Southern Claw respectively.
Libra makes its appearance in the northern hemisphere about May about 9 p.m. It doesn't rise high in the sky and then falls back in the south west in August and completely goes by the end of September.
Libra appears on the horizon in April in the East. It'll reach its highest point in July and then will start to fall back down to the horizon. it will have fully gone in October.
NGC 5793 is a spiral galaxy that is located to the south of Zubenelgenubi, the alpha star of the constellation. It is 150 Million Light Years away, the light for the galaxy would have left during the rein of the dinosaurs to get here. The object is too dim to be seen with the naked eye. You would need a telescope that is about 8-10 inches to see it.
It is the only sign of the Zodiac that is not an animal or a person in its representation. It is said to represent Scales that belonged to Themis, the Goddess of Justice. Themis is usually represented by a woman who is blind and holding the scales. At the very top of the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court in London, England is a golden monument of a woman holding scales and a sword to represent justice. The scales could be said to be Libra. Librans like to think of themselves as being the most well balanced group of the Zodiac groupings.
There are 8 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|delta Librids||14th August|
The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Libra Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Zubenelgenubi B||Alpha Librae B||75.80||14h 50m 52.78||-16d 02` 29.8||A3IV||White|
|Zubeneschamali||Beta Librae||185.11||15h 17m 00.47||-09d 22` 58.3||B8V||Blue/White|
|Zubenelhakrabi||Gamma Librae||163.16||15h 35m 31.54||-14d 47` 22.4||K0III||Orange|
|Brachium||Sigma Librae||288.38||15h 04m 04.26||-25d 16` 54.7||M3/M4III||Red|
|Derakrab Borealis||Upsilon Librae||223.71||15h 37m 01.46||-28d 08` 06.3||K3III||Orange|
|4 Librae||497.20||14h 43m 13.57||-24d 59` 51.8||B9.5V||Blue/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||Yes|
|Area||538.052 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||1.3%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||14|
|Meteor Shower Count||8|
|Nearest Star||Gliese 570 A|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||Gliese 570|
|Dimmest Star||47 Librae|
|Furthest Star||HIP 76117|
|Bright Star Count||49|
|Hipparcos Star Count||1316|
|Main Star Count||6|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Virgo|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|IC 4536||Galaxy in Pair of Galaxies||-18 08 12.1||15 13 17m 04|
|NGC 5605||Galaxy||-13 09 46.77||14 25 07m 573|
|NGC 5792||Spiral Galaxy||-01 05 27.89||14 58 22m 709|
|NGC 5793||Spiral Galaxy||150,000,000||-16 41 36.55||14 59 24m 807|
|NGC 5878||Spiral Galaxy||-14 16 11.21||15 13 45m 692|
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