A prominent constellation formed by a sinuous line of stars running into the band of the Milky Way. The stars of Scorpius form a shape remarkably reminiscent of a scorpion's body and raised sting. This distinct form explains why the constellation has been known as the 'Scorpion' by various cultures since ancient times, with the associations going back some 5,000 years or more. In its more ancient form, the Scorpion had a pair of claws pointing westward in the sky, but in Roman times these claws were divided off into a separate constellation, which is still known today as Libra.
According to the Greeks Scorpius represented the great mythical scorpion known as Scorpio, whose slaying of Orion the Hunter earned it a place mong the stars. Given the ancient history of the constellation, this tale is more likely an attempt to explain the long-recognised Scorpion shape in the sky rather than the origin of the constellation's name.
Scorpius in the Sky
Scorpius lies on the Ecliptic, the line representing the apparent path of the Sun through the sky, at the point where that line crosses into the band of the Milky Way. It is thus a zodiacalconstellation, one of those through which the Sun passes on its annual journey around the sky. Of all such constellations, Scorpius contains the shortest stretch of the line of the Ecliptic. The Sun's short passage across Scorpius covers a period of just six days as it passes through a narrow stripe of sky between neighboring Libra and Ophiuchus in late November each year.
To the northwest of Antares is a bluebinarystar, Dschubba or Delta Scorpii. Dschubba is notable for a sudden flare in brightness that took place in the year 2000, and since then its brightness has varied, at times approaching that of Antares itself. Dschubba marks the axis of the constellation: from this point, branches of stars representing the remnants of the Scorpion's two claws extend northward and southward, while the Scorpion's body runs southward and eastward.
The body of the Scorpion is composed of a string of brightstars, most notably orangeLarawag and bright yellowSargas, before it terminates with two stars nearby one another in the sky - Shaula and Lesath - representing the tip of Scorpio's sting, and lying in the general direction of the Galaxy's core. The curving lower parts of this formation create hook-like pattern in the sky, and are sometimes collectively known as the Fishhook, with Shaula and Lesath marking the point of the hook as well as the Scorpion's sting.