International Star Registry

All Constellations

Libra - Scales

The Autumnal Equinox was signaled by Libra. The days and the nights were of equal length, or the sun and moon were in balance. The sun passes through Libra in November. Alpha Librae is a blue-white star of 3 magnitude and is also known as Zubenelgenubi or Southern Claw.

Libra is the balance. Virgo, sometimes called Astraea, was the goddess of justice. Libra was not actually a person, but the scales usually seen in Virgo’s left hand, the appropriate emblem for the office of judgment.

Libra is seen on all of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Simultaneously an argument of the great antiquity of the asterism and of the probability of having been fabricated originally by the astronomical sons of Misraim.

In a few very old versions of the zodiac, Astraea, the virgin who holds the balance in her hand as an emblem of equal justice, is not shown; the zodiacs of Esne and Dendera are examples. Humboldt thinks that although the Romans introduced this constellation into their zodiac in the reign of Julius Caesar, it may have been used by the Egyptians and other nations of very remote antiquity.

It is generally supposed that the figure of the scales has been used by all nations to denote the balance of temperature between the days and nights. It has been observed that when the sun arrives at this sign, the season has a greater uniformity in temperature over all the Earth’s surface, not merely between day and night.

Others say only the beam of the balance was at first placed among the stars, and that the Egyptians thus honored it as their Nileometer with which they measured the inundations of the Nile. The biblical prophet is thought to be alluding to this scale of measurement when he describes the Almighty as “measuring the waters in the hollow of his hand.” (Isa. xi. 12)

The Greeks say the balance was placed among the stars to perpetuate the memory of Mochos, the inventor of the scale or balance. Early Christians assigned St. Philip the Apostle as representing Libra. In the book of Daniel it is identified as the balance. (verse 27.) To the Chinese it was Show Sing, sign of longevity and also Tien Ching, the celestial balance. Those who refer the constellations of the zodiac to the 12 tribes of Israel ascribe the balance to Asher. Encyclopedia Judaica, however, assigns Libra to Ephraim.
Right Ascension 03:18
Diameter (°)18
Area (square °)538
Opposition May 12
Size Rank 29th
Brightness Rank 40th