STAR LORE
 

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Libra the Scales
 
 
Libra the Scales (or more descriptively the Weighing Scales, sometimes the Balance) only appeared in Roman times.  The Scales were held by the Roman goddess of Justice, Astreae (Virgo) who lies directly to the west of Libra.  She would use the Scales to weigh the souls of men on their way to the Underworld, to detemine whether they would have eternal pleasure or pain.  There is some evidence, though, that the Scales came into being a thousand years earlier, when it appeared on the eastern morning horizon at the Aumtumnal Equinox, representing the equal "weight" of night and day at this time of year.   

Before then the stars of Libra were known to the Greeks as the Claws of the Scorpion.   That is why alpha (a) and beta (b) Librae have the wonderful names of Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, meaning the southern claw and the northern claw respectively.  Gamma (g) Librae has the name of Zubenelkrab, which means simply "The Scorpion's Claw" 


An excerpt from Johan van Keulen's Boeck zee-kaardt, 1709.
Libra was once known as the Claws of the Scorpion.

This article is ©2002 Stargazers Astronomy Shop

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