Constellation Scorpio: legend, how many stars, famous people of the sign

Scorpions, the most cunning and deadly creatures of the desert, found their reflection even in the starry sky. They managed to tread a nocturnal path to the very heart of the Milky Way galaxy while remaining part of the zodiac circle – a special area within the annual solar cycle.

It is noteworthy that this constellation is quite recognizable to observers from the southern regions of Russia from May to June. For residents of northern latitudes, this task is almost impossible, as the segmented starry creature appears only for a brief moment, peeking over the horizon. Its ecliptic region ranges from 210° to 240° (if measured from the vernal equinox point).

One of the first to notice Scorpius, dwelling not in the midst of sands but among star clusters, was Claudius Ptolemy, who included it in his ancient collection of maps, the “Almagest.”

Legends about the origin of the constellation:

From time immemorial, the image of the celestial Scorpion has been associated with mythology. There are two different plots explaining the appearance of the desert dweller among the stars.

Proud Phaethon

The first tale tells of Phaethon, the son of the brilliant Helios, the god of the Sun, and Clymene. Unlike his parents, the boy was mortal. Desiring to mock him, his childhood playmate, the son of Zeus, Epaphus, pointed out this shortcoming to him until he made Phaethon cry.

The reason for the child’s tears was immediately questioned by his mother. Calming him down, she promised that Epaphus’ words were slander and suggested that the boy visit Helios in his palace to confirm his paternity.

Phaethon did just that and went to visit the Sun god. Helios was very pleased with the boy’s visit. Upon hearing the reason for the visit, Helios, to dispel any doubts, rashly promised to fulfill any wish of his son. Phaethon immediately asked for the chariot with flying horses for just one day to ride across the sky.

This request greatly displeased the radiant god, as the winged creatures recognized no authority other than his own. Moreover, the path they had to take was very difficult for a mere mortal.

But Phaethon persisted in his request and refused to change his mind. Despite Helios’ reluctance, he could no longer retract his earlier promise. Therefore, he had to hand over the reins of the horses to his son and open the heavenly gates before him.

Phaethon initially enjoyed the ride, but it became increasingly difficult for him to control the animals. He quickly veered off course. In an attempt to return to his father’s palace, the boy encountered a terrifying Scorpion, which immediately aimed its deadly sting at him. In fear, he dropped the reins, and the horses, no longer under anyone’s control, carried the chariot first high into the sky and then sharply downward. Because Helios’ transportation was too close, the entire earth dried up, and the forests were engulfed in flames.

To save people from certain death, Zeus hurled a lightning bolt into the fiery chariot, breaking it into pieces. Phaethon perished. As a reminder of his tragic fate, Zeus transferred the image of the unfortunate Scorpion to the sky.

Boastful Orion

The second myth tells of a giant hunter named Orion. It was hard to find anyone on earth stronger, cleverer, and faster than him. That is why Orion could easily cope with catching any game and subduing any predator.

The giant was also very boastful. He would tell everyone he met about his talent. Once, caught up in his excitement, he even began to assure that he hunted better than Artemis herself. She heard these words and was deeply offended.

To teach Orion a lesson, the goddess sent a venomous Scorpion to him, which stung the giant in the heel, killing him. In gratitude, Artemis raised the creature to the sky. But Poseidon also did the same with his son Orion. Therefore, a serious disaster was brewing in the heavenly chambers – the Hunter and the Scorpion were ready to fight each other. But Zeus intervened and separated them, placing them in different areas of the sky so that the eternal enemies would never meet again.

How many stars are part of the Scorpius constellation:

Essentially, the figure of Scorpius consists of two shapes: an elongated polygon and an unfinished semicircle, connected by a chain of several stars. With good visibility, it’s possible to discern about a hundred stars with the naked eye. Among them, the most noticeable are:

  • Alpha Scorpii, or Antares (Greek for “Rival of Ares,” the god of war) – a supergiant double star, exceeding the diameter of the Sun by more than 300 times. It looks very similar to Mars, emitting red-colored light. The ancient Arabs gave this star another, no less beautiful name, Alkalb al Akrab, which means “Scorpion’s Heart.”
  • Beta Scorpii, or Graffias (“Crab”) – has pulsating brightness, recorded at different times ranging from 2.6 to 4.9 stellar magnitudes.
  • Lambda Scorpii, or Shaula (“Stinger”) is represented by a hot blue star. Nearby, scientists detect a powerful source of X-ray radiation. It is assumed that the luminary has a neutron pair, but visually confirming it is impossible.
  • Nu Scorpii – a component of the constellation that sparks many discussions in scientific circles. The thing is, scientists have determined that the star is not alone and has its own planetary system, consisting of at least 7 units.

In the constellation of Scorpius, there are also asterisms. The most famous of them is the Scorpion’s Stinger or the Fishhook. Astronomers still have not come to a consensus on how many stars form this pattern. But all agree that it begins with Alpha. It is thanks to this asterism that the outline of the celestial Scorpion so closely resembles its earthly counterpart.

In Scorpius, there is a star called GRO J1655-40, which will soon turn into a black hole, along with scattered and globular clusters.

Interesting facts about the Scorpius constellation:

  1. Shaped Like a Scorpion: Scorpius is one of the easiest constellations to recognize because it looks like a scorpion with a curved tail and claws.
  2. Bright Star Antares: The brightest star in Scorpius is Antares, which means “rival of Mars” because it shines a bright red, similar to the planet Mars.
  3. Ancient Stories: In Greek mythology, Scorpius represents the scorpion that was sent to kill the great hunter Orion. They are placed on opposite sides of the sky so they never meet.
  4. Zodiac Sign: Scorpius is one of the 12 zodiac constellations. If you are born between October 23 and November 21, your astrological sign is Scorpio.
  5. Visible in Summer: In the Northern Hemisphere, Scorpius is best seen in the summer months, particularly in July.
  6. Milky Way Connection: Scorpius lies near the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This means when you look at Scorpius, you’re looking toward a very dense part of the galaxy with many stars and celestial objects.
  7. Rich in Clusters: Scorpius is home to several star clusters and nebulae, making it a favorite for astronomers and stargazers. The Butterfly Cluster (M6) and the Ptolemy Cluster (M7) are two of the most famous.
  8. Binary Stars: Many stars in Scorpius are binary stars, which means they have a partner star that they orbit around. This makes them interesting objects for study.
  9. Ancient Navigation: Ancient sailors used the stars in Scorpius to navigate because they are bright and easily recognizable.
  10. Deep Sky Wonders: Scorpius contains several deep-sky objects like the Cat’s Paw Nebula and the War and Peace Nebula, which are beautiful to observe with telescopes.

Celebrities born under the sign of Scorpius:

Astrologers claim that a distinctive feature of those born under this sign is their strong temperament and charisma. Scorpios are ambitious and driven, and in their pursuit of success, they often become aggressive, even ruthless. However, they are capable of genuinely celebrating the successes of people whom they consider close.

Scorpios possess a strongly defined individuality and the ability to remain at the center of events. Therefore, among them are many well-known public figures:

  • Ryan Gosling, actor and filmmaker
  • Julia Roberts, actress and producer
  • Owen Wilson, actor and screenwriter
  • Demi Moore, actress and film producer
  • Anne Hathaway, actress and singer
  • Jodie Foster, actress and director
  • Emma Stone, actress
  • Jimmy Kimmel, television host and comedian
  • Meg Ryan, actress and producer
  • Ethan Hawke, actor, writer, and director
  • Rachel McAdams, actress
  • Pablo Picasso, painter and sculptor

Scorpios are known for their intensity, determination, and passion, which often translates into successful careers in various fields.

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