Dragon's Back Constellation: Ancient Scorpius Facts and Myths

The Scorpius is one of the oldest known constellations in the sky. The facts, information, and myth surrounding this constellation are equally interesting.
The Scorpius, also known as the Scorpio, is one of the 12 zodiac constellations known to man. Scorpius is Latin for scorpion. The Scorpius 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. However, in Chinese culture, it is believed to be the back of a dragon.

Constellation Scorpius
When talking about the position of this constellation, in simplest terms, it can be said that this constellation lies in between Libra (west) and Sagittarius (east). The sun traverses into the Scorpius constellation for only 9 days. 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 is believed that earlier, the Scorpio constellation was larger than its present day form. However, the neighboring portion, that represented the claws of the scorpion, were divided to form the constellation Libra by Julius Caesar. The stars belonging to this constellation are Antares (Alpha Sco), Graffias (Beta 1 Sco), Dschubba (Delta Sco), Sargas (Theta Sco), Shaula (Lambda Sco), Jabbah (Nu Sco), Grafias (Xi Sco), Al niyat (Sigma Sco), Al niyat (Tau Sco) and Lesath (Upsilon Sco).

Interestingly, the astrological constellation of Scorpio differs from the astronomical one. According to astrology, the sun is said to be in the Scorpio sign from 23rd October to 23rd November. However, according to astronomy, the sun is in this constellation only for nine days, i.e. from 23rd November to 30th November. For the remaining time, the sun is in the Ophiuchus constellation, which is considered as the only non-zodiacal constellation through which the sun transverses. The mythology related to the constellation Scorpius is quite fascinating.

Although there are several different myths and versions related to the constellation Scorpius, the following is the most popular and believed version. Once Orion, son of Poseidon and Eurayle, claimed that he was mighty enough to kill all the wild animals on the Earth. The Greek Gods and Goddesses were alarmed by Orion's boast. Secondly, Apollo was also fearful of Orion's love for his sister Artemis. In order to curtail Orion's pursuit, Gaia, the Greek Goddess of Earth, sent a mighty and gigantic scorpion to kill Orion. After this, the tale splits into various versions. According to one version, Gaia took pity on Orion and placed him on the opposite side of the Scorpius in the sky so as to prevent the two from combating again. According to the second version, Orion fled from the scorpion by swimming in the sea to see Artemis. Apollo on observing this, challenged Artemis in hunting skills and dared her to shoot the black spot in the sea. Artemis succeeded in doing so, while mistakenly killing Orion. Therefore, the Scorpius constellation rises in the east only when the Orion is seen to set in the west.

Scorpio Constellation Facts
  • The abbreviation for the Scorpius constellation: Sco
  • This constellation is visible between latitudes 40 and -90 degrees
  • The brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius: Antares
  • The fastest known nova is U Scorpii
  • Two bright stars, λ Sco and υ Sco, appearing at the tail of the constellation are known as Cat's eyes
Constellations are always beautiful to view, and Scorpio is not exception. Now that you have information on this constellation, you might enjoy viewing it more!