Scorpio (constellation)

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Scorpio constellation
Scorpius constellation map.png
Latin name Scorpius
Latin genitive Scorpii
Abbreviation Sco
Right ascension 15471515 h 47 m 15 s to  17 h 59 m 14 s175914
declination 1545399−45 ° 46 ′ 01 ″ to  −8 ° 17 ′ 45 ″1918255
surface 496,783 deg²
rank 33
Completely visible 44.3 ° N to 90 ° S
Observation time for Central Europe Summer
Number of stars brighter than 3 mag 11
Brightest star (size) Antares (1.06)
Meteor streams
Neighboring constellations
clockwise from north )
swell IAU ,

The Scorpion ( Latin Scorpio, Scorpius, Scorpios ; astronomical sign ♏; name of the IAU Scorpius , abbreviated Sco ) is a constellation of the ecliptic .


The Scorpio constellation as seen with the naked eye from a location with a latitude of around 50 °

Scorpio is one of the most imposing constellations in the southern night sky of the northern hemisphere. A twisted, bright chain of stars forms the clearly recognizable form of a scorpion with claws and an upright sting.

It is located near the center of the Milky Way and therefore contains a large number of star clusters and nebulae. The sight in the binoculars is particularly impressive .

Due to its southern location, the constellation can only be found just on the southern horizon from Central Europe in summer and only partially visible from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The ecliptic runs through Scorpio, therefore the sun , moon and planets move through the constellation. It is one of the signs of the zodiac . Due to the precession movement of the earth's axis, the time of the passage of the sun has shifted compared to ancient times. The sun is currently in Scorpio from November 23rd to November 30th . That is the shortest length of stay in a constellation during the year.


Engraving of the constellation Scorpio

The constellation was already known in Sumerian times and was associated with the goddess Išḫara . The current meaning of the constellation goes back to the ancient Greeks. Scorpio is one of the 48 classic constellations described by Ptolemy .

The Chinese saw in the constellation a mighty but benevolent dragon, whose appearance heralded the spring.

Even pre-Columbian cultures saw a scorpion in the constellation. The Maya used the term zinaan ek (stars of Scorpio). John Barantine of the Point Observatory in New Mexico sees a stone carving of the Hohokam culture in North America a representation of the supernova of May 1, 1006 in the constellation Scorpio.

The constellation has changed somewhat due to the definition of the current limits of the modern constellations. With the star γ ( Sigma Librae ), the Scorpio lost its southern scissors to the constellation Libra, but got its main stars α (now N Scorpii) and β (now H Scorpii) from the constellation Winkelmess .


In Greek mythology there are different narratives about the constellation.

Artemis , the goddess of the hunt, is said to have ordered the scorpion to kill the hunter Orion . He had incurred her anger through his resolution to kill all wild animals and monsters. According to another tradition, the jealous Apollo sent the Scorpio because Artemis was fond of Orion. Later, since he regretted the death of his friend, he took him to heaven. According to other sources, it was Hera , wife of Zeus , who had Orion killed by the scorpion because he had raped Merope . There are also different accounts of the outcome of the encounter. Orion dies from a stab in the heel or survives because he trampled the scorpion before. The two opponents were moved as far apart as possible in the sky so that they never meet there. When the Scorpio rises, the Orion sets and vice versa.

Another legend brings the scorpion into connection with Phaeton , the mortal son of the sun god Helios . Phaeton persuaded his father to let him have the sun chariot drawn by fiery horses. The inexperienced Phaeton soon lost control of the car. When the horses saw the sky scorpion with the sting raised, they went through and the chariot sped across the sky. The angry Zeus threw lightning, whereupon the fatally struck Phaeton fell into the river Eridanus .

Celestial objects


B. F. Names or other designations Size
Lj Spectral class
101α 21st Antares , Calbalacrab, Cor Scorpii, Vespertilo 0.9 to 1.8 604 M1.5 Iab-Ib + B4 Ve
111λ 35 Shaula 1.63 703 B2 IV + B
108θ Sargas 1.86 272 F1 II
105ε 26th Larawag , Wei 2.3 64 K1 III
104δ 7th Jubba , Al Jabba, Iclarkrau 2.29 402 B0.3 IV
110κ Girtab 2.41 464 B1.5 III
102β 1 8th Akrab , Elacrab, Graffias, Grassias 2.56 530 B1 V
120υ 34 Lesath , Lesuth 2.70 519 B2 IV
119τ 23 Alniyat , Al Niyat 2.8 about 500 B0 V
116π 6th 2.89 459 B1 V + B2 V
118σ 20th Alniyat , Al Niyat 2.9 about 600 B1 III + approx B1 + approx B7 + B9.5 V
109ι 1 2.99 1792 F2 Iae
112μ 1 3.00 822 B1.5 V + B6.5 V
300G 3.19 127 K2 III
107η 3.32 72 F3 III-Ivp
112μ 2 3.56 517 B2 IV
106ζ 2 3.62 151 K4 III
117ρ 5 3.87 409 B2 IV-V
124ω 1 9 Jabhat al Akrab 3.93 424 B1 V
113ν 14th Jabbah 4.00 437 B3 V
114ξ Graffias 4.16 92.5
400 HR 6166 4.18 339 K6 III
400 HR 6143 4.24 746 B2 III-IV
400 HR 6546 4.26 144 K0 IIIb
124ω 2 4.31 265 G3 II-III
115ο 19th 4.55 1178 A5 II
200cc 2 13 4.58 468 B2V
200aA. 2 4.59 434 B2.5 Vn
400 1 4.63 522 B3 V
106ζ 1 4.70 2900 B1 Iape
109ι 2 4.78 3700 A2Ib
200ii 22nd 4.79 393 B2 V
400 HR 6628 4.79 607 B8V
200dd 4.80 140 A0 V
400 HR 6334 4.83 2700 B1 Ia
400 HR 6675 4.85 347 K2 III
400 HR 6682 4.88 547 M0 III
102β 2 4.90 1133 B2 V
123ψ 15th 4.93 165 A3 IV
400 HR 5969 4.96 212 K5 III
400 HR 6316 5.03 491 B8 V
400 HR 6371 5.06 300 G8 - K0 III + G
400 HR 6017 5.09 255 K3 III
400 HR 6460 5.10 757 B7 III
400 HR 6245 5.23 7000 O8 Iaf
122χ 17th 5.24 439 K3 III
400 HR 6142 5.31 8500 B1 Iae
400 HR 6001 5.35 425 M2 III
400 HR 6094 5.37 42 G5 V
400 HR 5906 5.38 414 B6 Ivn
400 HR 5907 5.41 393 B2.5 Vne
400 HR 6100 5.42 468 B8 IV
400 V913 5.43 488 B5 IV
400 16 5.43 250 A4 V
400 HR 6260 5.46 6000 B0.5 Ia
400 V918 5.46 3000 O9 Ia
400 HR 6221 5.48 369 K0 III
400 27 5.48 725 K5 III
400 18th 5.49 46 G2 Va
400 HR 6007 5.50 433 B8 V

λ Scorpii, the second brightest star in Scorpio, is a blue giant star 600 light years away. The name Shaula comes from Arabic and derives from "the raised (sting)".

The yellow shining 18 Scorpii, 46 light-years away, is a star that is very similar to our sun in size, temperature and luminosity . With an apparent brightness of 5.49, it is barely visible to the naked eye.

Multiple stars

system Sizes distance
α 0.9 to 1.8 / 6.5 m 2.4
β 2.9 / 5.1 m 13.7
σ 3.0 to 3.8 / 9.0 m 20
ξ 4.1 / 7.2 m 7.9
ν 4.0 / 6.2 m 41.4

The brightest star in Scorpio is Antares (α Scorpii). The name is derived from "Anti-Ares" and means "Gegenmars" (the Greek god of war Ares corresponds to the Roman god Mars ). Due to its reddish color, the star in the night sky resembles the planet Mars . Another historical name is "Kalb al Akrab", Arabic for "heart of the scorpion". The Latin name "Cor Scorpii" has the same meaning.

Antares is a binary star system 600 light years away. At a distance of 2.4 arc seconds there is a companion of the 6th magnitude. It is not easy to observe because it is outshone by the bright main star. You need a telescope from 15 cm opening.

The main star is a supergiant with 10,000 times the luminosity and 700 times the diameter of our sun. If it were in the center of our solar system , it would protrude beyond the orbit of Mars.

The star pulsates for a period of about 4.75 years, with its brightness changing from 0.9 to 1.8 m .

β Scorpii is a binary star 530 light years away. Both stars can be observed with a small telescope. The Arabic name Akrab means "scorpion".

The ξ Scorpii system, 93 light-years away, consists of six stars, five of which orbit each other. Two stars can easily be observed in the telescope.

The system ν Scorpii is 437 light years away and consists of five stars. Four stars are visible in a telescope with an aperture of 15 cm or more.

The star σ Scorpii, 735 light years away, has a companion of the 9th magnitude. Due to the wide angular distance of 20 arc seconds, the system can be observed with a small telescope.

U Scorpii is a recurring nova (magnitude 8–9 mag) with a normal magnitude of 18.5 mag, the last outbreak of which occurred in February 1999. It is a binary star and eclipsing variable with a period of 1.23 days and a decrease in brightness of 0.4 to 0.8 mag. The former main star has already become a white dwarf and a candidate for an imminent supernova. The distance is estimated to be around 20,000 light years.

Variable stars

star size period Type
α 0.75 to 1.21 m 5.97 years Semi-regular variable star
σ 2.86 to 2.94 m 5.92 hours Beta Cephei star
AR 14.58 m 3.56 hours Variable star

The main star of the system σ Scorpii changes its brightness over a period of 5 hours and 55 minutes.

Messier and NGC objects

Messier (M) NGC other Surname size Type
4th 6121 5.9 m Globular clusters
6th 6405 Butterfly cluster 4.2 m Open star cluster
7th 6475 3.3 m Open star cluster
80 6093 7.3 m Globular clusters
6124 Open star cluster
6139 Globular clusters
6144 Globular clusters
6153 10.9 m Planetary nebula
6178 Open star cluster
6192 Open star cluster
6231 Open star cluster
6242 Open star cluster
6249 Open star cluster
6259 Open star cluster
6268 Open star cluster
6302 Beetle nebula 9.6 m Planetary nebula
6322 Open star cluster
6334 Emission nebula
6383 Open star cluster
6388 Globular clusters
6416 Open star cluster

Other objects

A variety of foggy objects are visible in Scorpio. The French astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier included five in his catalog ( Messier catalog ).

Immediately to the east of the bright star Antares is the globular cluster M 4, 6,000 light years away . Already with the binoculars it can be seen as a foggy spot. With a telescope from 10 cm opening single stars can be seen.

Not far north of Antares and therefore also easy to find is the globular cluster M 80 . Due to its distance of 36,000 light years, it is only visible in telescopes with an aperture of 6 cm or more.

The open star cluster M 6 is about 2,000 light years away. About 70 stars can be seen in binoculars. Because of its shape, the star cluster is also known as the “butterfly nebula”.

The open star cluster M 7 , 800 light-years away, contains about 80 stars that are brighter than the 10th magnitude.

M 6 and M 7 are among the most impressive open star clusters visible from Europe.

In a study published in 1933, the object H 2-1 was already noticed , which Guillermo Haro classified as a planetary nebula in 1952 .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Scorpio  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Scorpio constellation  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Robert Burnham: Celestial Handbook. Vol. 3. Dover, New York 1978. ISBN 0-486-23673-0
  2. ^ Victor Wolfgang von Hagen (American explorer).
  3. John Barantine (Apache Point Observetory, New Mexico). in: Adventure Archeology. Cultures, people, monuments. Spectrum of Science Verl.-Ges., Heidelberg 2006,3 u. 2006, 4, p. 6. ISSN  1612-9954
  4. Stern und Weltraum , May 2008, pp. 84–85, "Eine Nova auf Ansage"
  5. ^ Paul W. Merrill, Cora G. Burwell: Catalog and Bibliography of Stars of Classes B and a whose Spectra have Bright Hydrogen Lines , bibcode : 1933ApJ .... 78 ... 87M (H 2-1 is noted as the 247th entry )
  6. Guillermo Haro: Nuevas nebulosas planetarias y objetos con emision en la region del centro galactico. , bibcode : 1952BOTT .... 1a ... 1H