Scorpius Constellation: Facts About the Scorpion
The Scorpius constellation has intrigued people for centuries, not only for its distinctive shape, but also because it is one of the brightest constellations in the sky.
The name is Latin for scorpion, or literally translated as the creature with the burning sting. However, Scorpius is not a scorpion to everyone. The Javanese people of Indonesia call this constellation Banyakangrem, meaning "the brooded swan" or Kalapa Doyong, meaning "leaning coconut tree." In Hawaii, it is known as the demigod Maui's Fishhook. In Chinese mythology, the constellation was part of the Azure Dragon.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius lies close to the southern horizon; in the Southern Hemisphere, it lies high in the sky near the center of the Milky Way.
- Right Ascension: 17 hours
- Declination: minus 40 degrees
- Visible between latitudes 40 and minus 90 degrees
- Best seen in July at 9 p.m.
Scorpius used to be larger. The ancient Greeks considered the Libra constellation to be the claws of the scorpion.
Scorpius has many bright stars, including Antares (α Sco), β1 Sco (Graffias), δ Sco (Dschubba), θ Sco (Sargas), λ Sco (Shaula), ν Sco (Jabbah), ξ Sco (Girtab), π Sco (Iclil), σ Sco (Alniyat), τ Sco (also known as Alniyat) and υ Sco (Lesath).
Antares, a red supergiant, is the 16th brightest star, with an apparent magnitude between 0.96 and 1.8. It is part of a binary system, having a faint companion. Other binary stars in Scorpius include Beta, Nu, Xi and Sigma Scorpii.
The constellation encompasses U Scorpii, one of only 10 known recurring novas, which is the rapid increase in the brightness of a star. While it normally has a magnitude of 18, it reaches a magnitude of about 8 during outbursts, which have been observed in 1863, 1906, 1936, 1979, 1987, 1999, and 2010.
Scorpius is also home to four deep space object that were among the first to be catalogued by Charles Messier: M4 (NGC6121); M6 (NGC6405), also called the Butterfly Cluster; M7 (NGC6475); and M80 (NGC6093).
Scorpius and Orion are often intertwined in Greek mythology. According to one myth, Orion boasted that he would kill every animal on the earth. The goddess-hunter Artemis and her mother, Leto, dispatched a scorpion to kill Orion. Zeus put the scorpion in the heavens after it won the battle. In another myth, the god Apollo, Artemis's twin brother, grew angry and sent a scorpion to attack Orion because he claimed to be a better hunter than Artemis. Zeus put Orion and Scorpius in the sky, but they are visible at different times of the year.
Astrology is not a science, and calls the sign of the scorpion Scorpio. It is one of the 13 constellations of the Zodiac. It is the eighth sign in the Zodiac and represents those born between Oct. 24 and Nov. 22. The traits of those born under the sign include determination and loyalty.
— Kim Ann Zimmermann
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