The Constellation Libra

by Dominic Ford
Libra Libra
The constellation Libra. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Libra is an equatorial constellation which culminates at midnight in May.

The name ‘Libra’ is Latin for ‘scales’, making it the only one of the zodiacal constellations to be named after an inanimate object.

It is a relatively late addition to the zodiac: until Roman times, this part of the ecliptic was assigned to Scorpius, the scorpion. This is still reflected in the names of its two brightest stars, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, Arabic for the southern claw and the northern claw respectively.

In more recent times, Libra has usually been more closely associated with its western neighbor Virgo, the virgin, who is often depicted holding the scales of justice.

Each year, the Sun lies in Libra for the first three weeks of November.

Situated away from the plane of the Milky Way, Libra is home to only one bright deep sky object: the ninth-magnitude globular cluster NGC 5897.

Date First Appeared
Ancient (Roman)
Sky Area
1.3% of the sky
538.1 square degrees
Messier Objects
Libra contains no Messier objects
Caldwell Objects
Libra contains no Caldwell objects
Neighbors
The following constellations neighbor Libra: Centaurus, Hydra, Lupus, Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Serpens Caput, Virgo.
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Brightest Objects in Libra

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Zubeneschamali (mag 2.6) NGC 5897 (mag 8.5) NGC 5766 (mag 0.0)
Zubenelgenubi (mag 2.7) NGC 5802 (mag 0.0)
σ-Lib (mag 3.3) NGC 5891 (mag 0.0)
υ-Lib (mag 3.6) NGC 5973 (mag 0.0)
τ-Lib (mag 3.7) IC 1081 (mag 0.0)
γ-Lib (mag 3.9) NGC 5595 (mag 0.0)
θ-Lib (mag 4.1) NGC 5741 (mag 0.0)
16-Lib (mag 4.5) NGC 5791 (mag 0.0)
ι-Lib (mag 4.6) IC 1055 (mag 0.0)
37-Lib (mag 4.6) IC 4468 (mag 0.0)
κ-Lib (mag 4.8) NGC 5663 (mag 0.0)
ε-Lib (mag 4.9) NGC 5744 (mag 0.0)
FX Lib (mag 4.9) NGC 5796 (mag 0.0)
11-Lib (mag 4.9) NGC 5849 (mag 0.0)
42-Lib (mag 5.0) NGC 5917 (mag 0.0)
δ-Lib (mag 5.0) IC 1077 (mag 0.0)
λ-Lib (mag 5.0) IC 4538 (mag 0.0)
HD 138764 (mag 5.1) NGC 5729 (mag 0.0)
36-Lib (mag 5.1) NGC 5768 (mag 0.0)
α¹-Lib (mag 5.2) NGC 5809 (mag 0.0)
ν-Lib (mag 5.2) NGC 5863 (mag 0.0)
12-Lib (mag 5.3) NGC 5892 (mag 0.0)
HD 126218 (mag 5.3) NGC 5978 (mag 0.0)
41-Lib (mag 5.4) IC 1084 (mag 0.0)
η-Lib (mag 5.4) NGC 5742 (mag 0.0)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme