Look south around 9 p.m. next week to see Scorpius standing straight up above the southeastern horizon. North of Scorpius and to its west (right) is the faint constellation Libra the Scales.

Libra is not much to look at — it takes imagination to see scales in the sky. Libra comes down from myth and legend as codified by Ptolemy in The Almagest published in the 2nd century AD. However, Libra contains two of my most favorite stars — Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali. By 9:30 p.m. they will be almost directly south approximately 45 degrees above the horizon.

I like these stars because of their weird names and because once found they become easily recognizable old friends in this part of the sky. I have to always be careful to look up their proper spelling whenever I write about them. In ancient times they were considered to be the outstretched claws of Scorpius the Scorpion, since they lie northwest of Scorpius.

Zubenelgenubi is derived from an Arabic phrase meaning the Scorpion’s southern claw, while Zubeneschamali is the northern claw. Thus, Zubenelgenubi is to the south and west of Zubeneschamali, the two stars being about 9 degrees apart. As a bonus, for the time being bright Saturn lies between the two stars, situated only about three degrees away from Zubenelgenubi.

You must give these two stars a try. They make Libra worthwhile. Even though we commonly talk about them in the same sentence, they are not physically related to each other.

Contact Tim Hunter at skyspy@azstarnet.com