|Pronunciation||//, genitive //|
|Area||497 sq. deg. (33rd)|
|Stars with planets||14|
|Stars brighter than 3.00m||13|
|Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly)||3|
|Brightest star||Antares (α Sco) (0.96m)|
|Meteor showers||Alpha Scorpiids|
|Visible at latitudes between +40° and −90°.|
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of July.
Scorpius is one of the constellations of the zodiac and is located in the Southern celestial hemisphere. Scorpius is one of the 48 constellations identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. Its old astronomical symbol is (♏︎). It is an ancient constellation that pre-dates the Greeks. It lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It is a large constellation located in the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way.
Scorpius contains many bright stars, including Antares (α Sco), "rival of Mars," so named because of its distinct reddish hue; β1 Sco (Graffias or Acrab), a triple star; δ Sco (Dschubba, "the forehead"); θ Sco (Sargas, of unknown origin); ν Sco (Jabbah); ξ Sco; π Sco (Fang); σ Sco (Alniyat); and τ Sco (Paikauhale).
Marking the tip of the scorpion's curved tail are λ Sco (Shaula) and υ Sco (Lesath), whose names both mean "sting." Given their proximity to one another, λ Sco and υ Sco are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.
The star δ Sco, after having been a stable 2.3 magnitude star, flared in July 2000 to 1.9 in a matter of weeks. It has since become a variable star fluctuating between 2.0 and 1.6. This means that at its brightest it is the second brightest star in Scorpius.
The star once designated γ Sco (despite being well within the boundaries of Libra) is today known as σ Lib. Moreover, the entire constellation of Libra was considered to be claws of Scorpius (Chelae Scorpionis) in Ancient Greek times, with a set of scales held aloft by Astraea (represented by adjacent Virgo) being formed from these westernmost stars during later Greek times. The division into Libra was formalised during Roman times.
Due to its location straddling the Milky Way, this constellation contains many deep-sky objects such as the open clusters Messier 6 (the Butterfly Cluster) and Messier 7 (the Ptolemy Cluster), NGC 6231 (by ζ² Sco), and the globular clusters Messier 4 and Messier 80.
Messier 80 (NGC 6093) is a globular cluster of magnitude 7.3, 33,000 light-years from Earth. It is a compact Shapley class II cluster; the classification indicates that it is highly concentrated and dense at its nucleus. M80 was discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier. It was the site of a rare discovery in 1860 when Arthur von Auwers discovered the nova T Scorpii.
In Greek mythology, several myths associated with Scorpio attribute it to Orion. According to one version, Orion boasted to the goddess Artemis and her mother, Leto, that he would kill every animal on Earth. Artemis and Leto sent a scorpion to kill Orion. Their battle caught the attention of Zeus, who raised both combatants to the sky to serve as a reminder for mortals to curb their excessive pride. In another version of the myth, Artemis' twin brother, Apollo, was the one who sent the scorpion to kill Orion after the hunter earned the goddess' favor by admitting she was better than him. After Zeus raised Orion and the scorpion to the sky, the former hunts every winter but flees every summer when the scorpion comes. In both versions, Artemis asked Zeus to raise Orion.
The Babylonians called this constellation MUL.GIR.TAB - the 'Scorpion'; the signs can be literally read as 'the (creature with) a burning sting'.
In some old descriptions the constellation of Libra is treated as the Scorpion's claws. Libra was known as the Claws of the Scorpion in Babylonian (zibānītu (compare Arabic zubānā)) and in Greek (χηλαι).
The Western astrological sign Scorpio differs from the astronomical constellation. Astronomically, the sun is in Scorpius for just six days, from November 23 to November 28. Much of the difference is due to the constellation Ophiuchus, which is used by few astrologers. Scorpius corresponds to the Hindu nakshatras Anuradha, Jyeshtha, and Mula.
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