Libra is currently represented as a set of scales. Its earlier representation was that of the claws of a scorpion. The outline of the scales as well as the claws, or the scorpion itself (tail up) bear close resemblance. This confusion is said to have originated from the Arabic word zubānā, which mean both 'weighing scale' and 'scorpion'.
Thus, the constellation Libra was originally called Chelae Scorpionis, which means the scorpion's claws, and was part of the claws of the constellation Scorpius. It was reassigned as the scales in 1851 by Benjamin A. Gould, and is considered the newest zodiac sign, and the only one to represent an inanimate entity. Libra is often pictorially depicted as a woman, sometimes considered Astraea, the Greek goddess of justice, holding a balance scale.
Libra lies between the constellation Virgo to the west and Scorpius to the east, at about 15 hours 30 minutes right ascension (the coordinate on the celestial sphere analogous to the longitude on the Earth) and 15° south declination (angular distance south of the celestial equator).
When seen by the naked eye from the Earth, its stars appear faint. The brightest stars that constitute Libra are α Librae, Zubenelgenubi ('southern claw'); β Librae, Zubeneschamali ('northern claw'); γ Librae, Zubenelakrab ('scorpion's claw') and δ Librae, an eclipsing variable.
Alpha Librae or Zubenelgenubi is the second brightest star of the constellation and is a visual binary located at the approximate distance of 77 light years from the Sun. Beta Librae, the brightest star of the constellation, is a blue dwarf star and is about 130 times brighter than the Sun. Sigma Librae is a red star of magnitude 3.25 and is 292 light years away from the Earth.
Among the stars that comprise constellation Libra, Gliese 581 has a planetary system of at least 4 planets. Out of these four planets, Gliese '581 c' is the first extrasolar planet similar to earth, found within its parent star's habitable zone. Gliese '581 e' is the smallest exoplanet according to mass that orbits a normal star.
The Zodiac Sign of Libra
In astrology, Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac, and is ruled by the planet Venus. Those born within the period of September 22 to October 23, fall under this sign. Libra is an air sign, and is also one of the four cardinal signs, which are characterized by qualities of initiation and forging ahead. People born under Libra are said to have a pleasant disposition, are well spoken, charming, tactful, romantic, laid back, and idealistic. Their negative qualities include that they are indecisive, easily influenced, flirtatious, and self-indulgent. This sign has compatibility with Aquarius and Gemini.