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
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 8.4) NGC 5812 (mag 11.2)
Zubenelgenubi (mag 2.7) NGC 5903 (mag 11.5)
σ-Lib (mag 3.3) NGC 5878 (mag 11.5)
υ-Lib (mag 3.6) NGC 5898 (mag 11.5)
τ-Lib (mag 3.7) NGC 5885 (mag 11.7)
γ-Lib (mag 3.9) NGC 5792 (mag 11.8)
θ-Lib (mag 4.1) NGC 5595 (mag 12.0)
16-Lib (mag 4.5) NGC 5892 (mag 12.0)
ι-Lib (mag 4.6) NGC 5605 (mag 12.0)
37-Lib (mag 4.6) NGC 5861 (mag 12.6)
κ-Lib (mag 4.8) NGC 5729 (mag 12.8)
ε-Lib (mag 4.9) IC 4538 (mag 12.8)
FX Lib (mag 4.9) NGC 5791 (mag 12.9)
11-Lib (mag 4.9) NGC 5756 (mag 13.0)
42-Lib (mag 5.0) NGC 5716 (mag 13.0)
δ-Lib (mag 5.0) NGC 5796 (mag 13.0)
λ-Lib (mag 5.0) NGC 5915 (mag 13.1)
HD 138764 (mag 5.1) IC 1055 (mag 13.3)
36-Lib (mag 5.1) NGC 5793 (mag 13.3)
α¹-Lib (mag 5.2) NGC 5728 (mag 13.4)
ν-Lib (mag 5.2) IC 1077 (mag 13.5)
12-Lib (mag 5.3) NGC 5761 (mag 13.6)
HD 126218 (mag 5.3) NGC 5995 (mag 13.7)
41-Lib (mag 5.4) NGC 5917 (mag 13.7)
η-Lib (mag 5.4) IC 4536 (mag 13.7)



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