What are some facts about the Scorpius constellation?


Quick Answer

Scorpius is the 33rd-largest constellation and lies between Libra and Sagittarius near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The scorpion-shaped constellation covers 497 square degrees in the third quadrant of the Southern Hemisphere. For viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius appears to sit near the southern horizon, while it sits high in the sky for viewers from the Southern Hemisphere.

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Full Answer

Scorpius is composed of 18 main stars, 14 stars with planets and 13 stars with an apparent magnitude greater than 3.00. The brightest star is the red-tinted Antares, while the closest star to Earth is Gliese 682, located 16.44 light years away. Other important stars in the constellation are Dschubba, Sargas, Jabbah, Girtab, Graffias, also known as Acrab, Iclil, and two stars named Alniyat, also known as Sigma Scorpii and Tau Scorpii. The nova U Scorpii, also contained with Scorpius, has the fastest period of any known nova. Deep space objects situated within Scorpius include the following star clusters: the Butterfly Cluster, the Ptolemy Cluster, NGC 6231, Messier 4 and Messier 80.

Chinese astronomers included Scorpius in the constellation Azure Dragon. It was known as Maui's Fishhook to the indigenous people of Hawaii and as both Leaning Coconut Tree and Brooded Swan to inhabitants of Indonesia.

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