Astro Glossary

  • Zubeneschamali, Zubenelgenubi

    The brightest and second-brightest stars of Libra, the balance scales, and also known as Beta Librae and Alpha Librae, respectively. Their names are derived from Arabic phrases that mean the northern and southern claws of the scorpion, which is an adjacent constellation. Thousands of years ago, the stars were considered members of Scorpius. By about 2,500 years ago, however, they had been severed from the scorpion and incorporated into the new constellation Libra. They retain their older names, however, which are among the most lyrical in all the night sky. Zubeneschamali is about 185 light-years away. It is about 3.5 times the Sun's mass, five times its diameter, and more than 100 times its total brightness. Zubenelgenubi is a binary system about 76 light-years from Earth. Both of its stars are bigger and more massive than the Sun.

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