α Librae

One notable fact about Libra is that it is the only constellation found in the Zodiac which is not an animal.

The brightest of the alpha Librae stars, alpha2, has a name reminiscent of something out of Star Wars--Zubenelgenubi --“The Southern Claw of the Scorpion”. Its neighbour beta Librae is Zubeneschamali, “the Northern Claw.” These names remind us that the constellation was once part of Scorpius.

The two alpha stars are midway between Spica (alpha Virginis) and Antares (alpha Scorpii). If you put Zubenelgenubi at the bottom of your glasses you'll see this configuration: binoculars.

Alpha2 Libra, has a magnitude of 2.75, somewhat dimmer than beta Librae, the brightest star in Libra, at 2.61. Alpha1 has a much fainter 5.15 magnitude.

The two alphas form a splendid wide double, with a colour contrast, yellow and pale blue:
      AB: 2.7, 5.2; 314º, 231.1" (=3'51").

Just north of alpha, in the same field of view, is mu Librae, a close binary (BU 106): 5.6, 6.6; 340º, 1.9".


Move one binocular field northeast, so that what was the most northern star, xi1 is now just out of the field of view, with xi2 now on the southwestern edge. Delta is to the north.

Of the small group of stars in the southwestern corner, the most easterly, 18 Librae, is a binary (Struve 1894): 6.0, 9.8; 39º, 19.9".

Now move one binocular field east to find beta Librae on the western edge.

Click on beta on the map to continue.

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© 1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.