The Scorpio constellation pre-dates the Greeks, and is one of the oldest constellations known. It has intrigued people for centuries, not only for its distinctive shape, but also because it is one of the brightest constellations in the sky.
Scorpio was one of the earliest discovered constellations, believed to be known by the ancient Babylonians. The stars of this constellation look like a giant ‘S’ in the sky which is believed to be the back or the spine of a Scorpion.
Scorpio is the 33rd constellation in size, occupying an area of 497 square degrees.
The Scorpio constellation lies in the southern sky in between Libra (to the west) and Sagittarius (to the east). The constellation is located near the center of the Milky Way.
From the northern hemisphere, this constellation can be seen close to the horizon; whereas in the southern hemisphere, it is seen high up in the sky.
It lies in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere and can be seen at latitudes between +40° and -90°. Some other neighboring constellations are Ara, Corona Australis, Lupus, Norma, and Ophiuchus.
Scorpio has many bright stars, including Antares, Graffias, Dschubba, Sargas, Shaula, Jabbah, Girtab, Iclil, Alniyat and Lesath. Scorpio also contains several notable deep sky objects. Messier 4, Messier 6 or Butterfly Cluster, Messier 7 or Ptolemy Cluster, Messier 80 and NGC 6231.
Antares is a red supergiant star approximately 550 light years distant from the Sun. It is the brightest star in the Scorpio constellation and the 16th brightest star in the night sky. It is approximately 10,000 times more luminous than the Sun, and has between 15 and 18 solar masses. The star’s estimated age is about 12 million years.
Messier 4 is a globular cluster in Scorpius. It is approximately 7,200 light years distant from the solar system. It is one of the closest globular clusters to Earth. The Butterfly Cluster, or Messier 6 is an open cluster of stars that form a shape similar to that of a butterfly. The brightest star in the cluster is an orange super-giant. The Ptolemy Cluster is also known as Messier 7. It is an open cluster visible to the naked eye, located near the scorpion’s sting. It contains about 80 stars. Messier 80 is another globular cluster in Scorpio. It is one of the densest globular clusters in the Milky Way, containing several hundred thousand stars. Messier 80 lies 32,600 light years from Earth. NGC 6231 is an open cluster of stars. It is believed to be only 3.2 million years old. The cluster is approaching us at the speed of 22 kilometers per second.
SCORPIO CONSTELLATION MYTHOLOGY
Scorpio rules the cycle of life, death and birth, and many of the myths associated with the constellation Scorpio reflects this. The story behind the constellation in Scorpio mythology has many possible origins, but the one that is most often referenced is the story of Scorpio versus Orion.
Orion was a giant hunter, the son of Poseidon, god of the Sea and the sea-nymph Eurayle. He was considered a great hero, but he had a way of pissing off the gods that both became his undoing, and created the constellation Scorpio. The primary story goes that Orion bragged about how he was such a great hunter that we was going to kill every creature on earth.
This is the point where Artemis, the Greek hunting goddess, would take offense to anyone claiming superiority in hunting skills, and cut them down to size. The only thing was that Artemis had a big time crush on Orion and actually found him charming. Her brother Apollo, the sun god, did not find this claim quite so amusing, as he was also the god of the animal herds.
Such an arrogant statement also offended Gaia, goddess of Earth, for obvious reasons. So Gaia decided that Orion must die, just in case he might one day decide to demonstrate his claim. So she created a giant scorpion, Scorpio to hunt him. Orion pretty much knew he was screwed, so he ran, and Scorpio chased him.
One version describes that as mighty as Orion was, he found that none of his mortal weapons could slay the monster and, after only a brief battle, Scorpio managed to deliver a fatal sting on the hunter’s heel.
Another version tells that Orion fled from Scorpio by swimming in the sea to find Artemis. Apollo, on observing this, challenged Artemis’ hunting skills and dared her to shoot the black spot in the water. Artemis accidentally shot Orion in the head thinking she was shooting Scorpio.
Depending on which myth you want to go with either Scorpio killed Orion, or Artemis accidentally shot Orion in the head thinking she was shooting Scorpio. Either way, Orion died.
Zeus had been watching the whole thing and Orion and Scorpio were each honored for eternity as constellations in the sky, but to prevent any lasting hostilities, they were placed at opposite ends of the sky- as Orion rises in the east and Scorpio sets in the west.