Nearly everyone knows a little something about astrology — even if it’s only where to find the daily horoscope section in the local newspaper. Whether you truly believe the stars control your destiny, think it’s all bunk, or just like to have fun with it, the 12 signs of the zodiac are part of our cultural heritage. Over the next year, the Farmers’ Almanac will introduce you to the facts and mythology behind each constellation in the traditional Western zodiac. This month, Libra.
Libra is the seventh constellation of the zodiac. Its name is the Latin word meaning “measuring scales.”
The astrological symbol for Libra is ♎, and the constellation sits in the sky between Virgo to the west and Scorpius to the east. Other nearby constellations include Ophiuchus, Hydra, Lupus, and Centaurus.
Libra is a relatively faint constellation, containing no first magnitude stars. Some of the more prominent stars within its boundaries include Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschamali, Zubenelakrab, and Brachium. By far, the most notable Libran star is Gliese 581, which has at least four planets, two of which are Earth-like planets within the star’s habitable zone.
In Greek mythology, Libra represents the scales held by Astraea, the goddess of justice (the constellation Virgo). It is the only sign in the zodiac that is an inanimate object, rather than an animal or person. To the Babylonians, Libra was known as “the claws of the scorpion” and considered part of the neighboring constellation, Scorpius.
Astrologically, the Sun resides in the house of Libra from September 23 to October 23 each year. People born during this period have Libra as their Sun sign. Proponents of astrological determinism believe that people born under the same Sun sign share certain character traits. Libra people are most often described as fair-minded, idealistic, easygoing, charming, compassionate, diplomatic, intelligent, and sensitive.