- This article is about the constellation. Libra is also a Roman coin and weight measure, see Ancient weights and measures. Libra is also a novel by Don DeLillo. LIBRA is also a political party in Croatia.
Libra (♎, and Latin for balance) is a constellation of the zodiac. It is a fairly inconspicuous constellation and has no star of first magnitude, lying between Virgo to the west and Scorpius to the east. As the names of the brighter stars testify, it was at one point part of Scorpius' claws.
The brightest stars in Libra form a rectangle:
- α Librae, Zubenelgenubi ("southern claw"), a visual binary;
- β Librae, Zubeneschamali ("northern claw");
- γ Librae, Zubenelakrab ("scorpion's claw");
- σ Librae, an eclipsing variable.
α and β Librae are the scales' balance beam, and γ and σ are the weighing pans.
The constellation, which originally formed part of the claws of the scorpion (Scorpio), is the youngest of the Zodiac and the only one not to represent a living creature. In later Greek mythology, the constellation, which when considered on its own looks vaguely like a set of scales, was considered to depict the scales held by Astraea (identified as Virgo), the goddess of justice.
Since Libra was originally part of Virgo (as scales), and before that part of Scorpio, it was not a distinct entity for which a zodiac sign was named. Its place may have been taken by Boötes, which is the nearest to the ecliptic. Since the place Boötes should have held on the ecliptic is vacant, it may have, together with Ursa Major, Draco, and Ursa Minor, also in Libra, led to the myth of the apples of the Hesperides, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles.
The astrological sign Libra (September 23 - October 22) is associated with the constellation.
In some cosmologies, Libra is associated with the classical element Air, and thus called an Air Sign (with Aquarius and Gemini). It is also one of the four cardinal signs (along with Aries, Cancer, and Capricorn). Its polar opposite is Aries. Each astrological sign is assigned a part of the body, viewed as the seat of its power. Libra rules the lower back and internal reproductive organs. The symbol for Libra is the Scales. Libran qualities include physical beauty, strong sensuality, artistic sensibilities, tact and diplomacy, and an innate sense of fairness and balance. Negatively, Librans can be very judgemental.
Some famous Librans: Julie Andrews, Hannah Arendt, Brigitte Bardot, Monica Bellucci, Chuck Berry, Toni Braxton, Jimmy Carter, Miguel de Cervantes, John Coltrane, Aleister Crowley, Matt Damon, Catherine Deneuve, Denis Diderot, Michael Douglas, T.S. Eliot, John Entwistle, William Faulkner, Larry Fine, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michel Foucault, Mahatma Gandhi, George Gershwin, Martin Heidegger, Pope John Paul I, Buster Keaton, John Lennon, Franz Liszt, Louis XIII of France, Louis-Philippe of France, Auguste and Louis Lumière, Groucho Marx, Lord Nelson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Lee Harvey Oswald, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luciano Pavarotti, Pope Paul VI, Arthur Rimbaud, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan Sarandon, Paul Simon, Edmund Stoiber, Margaret Thatcher, Jean Claude Van Damme, Gore Vidal, Virgil, Naomi Watts, Oscar Wilde, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.