Scorpius or Scorpio [Lat.,=the scorpion], conspicuous southern constellation lying on the ecliptic (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Sagittarius and Libra; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Scorpius contains the bright stars Antares (Alpha Scorpii) and Shaula (Lambda Scorpii); a recurrent nova that flared up in 1863, 1906, and 1936; and Scorpius XR-1, the strongest X-ray source in the sky. The constellation reaches its highest point in the evening sky in July.

Scorpius (Latin for scorpion, symbol , Unicode ♏) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. In western astrology it is known as "Scorpio". It lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It is a large constellation located in the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way.

Notable features

Scorpius contains many bright stars, including Antares (α Sco), β1 Sco (Graffias), δ Sco (Dschubba), θ Sco (Sargas), λ Sco (Shaula), ν Sco (Jabbah), ξ Sco (Grafias), π Sco (Iclil), σ Sco (Alniyat), τ Sco (also known as Alniyat) and υ Sco (Lesath). Most of the bright stars are massive members of the nearest OB association: Scorpius-Centaurus.

The star δ Sco, after having been a stable 2.3 magnitude star flared in July 2000 to 1.9 in a matter of weeks. it has since become a variable star fluctuating between 2.0 and 1.6. This means that at its brightest it is the second brightest star in Scorpius.

ω¹ Scorpii and ω² Scorpii are an optical double, which can be resolved by the unaided eye. They have contrasting blue and yellow colours.

The star once designated γ Sco (despite being well within the boundaries of Libra) is today known as σ Lib. Moreover, the entire constellation of Libra was considered to be claws of Scorpius (Chelae Scorpionis) in Ancient Greek times, with a set of scales held aloft by Astraea (represented by adjacent Virgo) being formed from these western-most stars during later Greek times. The division into Libra was formalised during Roman times.

λ Sco and υ Sco, two stars at the end of the scorpion's tail that appear very close together, are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.

Notable deep sky objects

Due to its location on the Milky Way, this constellation contains many deep sky objects such as the open clusters Messier 6 (the Butterfly Cluster) and Messier 7 (the Ptolemy Cluster), and the globular clusters Messier 4 and Messier 80. Also in the southern end of the constellation by ζ² Sco, there is the open star cluster NGC 6231.


Scorpius resembles, quite noticeably, a scorpion's tail, and a vague body. According to Greek mythology, it corresponds to the scorpion which was sent by the goddess Hera (or possibly Gaia) to kill the hunter Orion, the scorpion rising out of the ground to attack. Although the scorpion and Orion appear together in this myth, the constellation of Orion is almost opposite to Scorpius in the night sky. It has been suggested that this was a divine precaution to forestall the heavenly continuation of the feud.

In one version, Apollo sent the scorpion after Orion, having grown jealous of Artemis' attentions to Orion. Later, in contrition for killing her friend, Apollo helped Artemis hang Orion's image in the night sky. However, the scorpion was also placed up there, and every time it appears on the horizon, Orion starts to sink into the other side of the sky, still running from the attacker.

Scorpius also appears in one version of the story of Phaethon, the mortal son of Helios, the sun. Phaethon asked to drive the sun-chariot for a day. Phaethon lost control of the chariot. The horses, already out of control, were scared by the great celestial scorpion with its sting raised to strike, and the inexperienced boy lost control of the chariot, as the sun wildly went about the sky (this is said to have formed the constellation Eridanus). Finally, Zeus struck him down with a thunderbolt to stop the rampage.

The Chinese included these stars in the Azure Dragon, a powerful but benevolent creature whose rising heralded spring.

In Maori mythology, this constellation can be Maui's magic jawbone (used to fish up the North Island of New Zealand), the front of Tama-rereti's waka (used to ferry the stars into the sky) or one of the posts Tane used to hold Ranginui (the sky-father) in the sky. While three posts (Sirius, Matariki/The Pleiades and Orion) hold up the top half of Ranginui, only a single post (Scorpius) supports the lower half of his body. It therefore appears bent under the weight.


The Western astrological sign Scorpio of the tropical zodiac (October 23November 23) differs from the astronomical constellation and the Hindu astrological sign of the sidereal zodiac (November 16December 16). Astronomically, the sun is in Scorpius from November 23November 30. Scorpius corresponds to the nakshatras Anuradha, Jyeshtha, and Mula


  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.

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