Known in Latin as Leo, Leo refers to one of the constellations of the Zodiac. It is crossed by the Sun every year from August 10th to September 16th. It should be noted that this constellation is bounded on the east by Virgo and on the west by Cancer. It is also necessary to specify that Leo ♌ is part of the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
Therefore, it is crossed by the Sun between July 23 and August 22. So what is the morphology of the constellation Leo? What are the main stars of this constellation? Where does the legend of the constellation Leo come from? You can be sure to find out all about Leo in this comprehensive fact sheet.
Leo have his own constellation, is one of the constellations of the zodiac that the sun passes through in a year. The zodiac is the set of constellations that are crossed by the ecliptic, they are 13 in total. Coming from the Latin leo (genitive Leonis), the constellation Leo is located between the constellation Virgo on its left, and the constellation Cancer on the right. The lion also designates a zodiac sign corresponding to the 30° sector of the ecliptic crossed by the sun from July 24 to August 23. It is in this context that it is used to locate planetary movements, always used in astrology. The constellation of Leo contains several bright stars such as Regulus (α Leonis) or the heart of Leo and Denebola (β Leonis) or the tail of Leo. This constellation was already known in Mesopotamia 5000 years ago. At that time, the sun stood in the lion at the summer solstice. The lion is especially rich in galaxies, counting among them five Messier objects: M65, M66, M95, M96, and M10.
The Main Characteristics of the Constellation Leo
Like many constellations, Leo can be observed from the Big Dipper. Located in this space, you can see the constellation of Leo by aligning yourself with its two inner stars. You will notice that the alignment ends on the star Regulus. Furthermore, it should be noted that Leo is located on the opposite axis of Taurus but also on the axis crossing Alpha Virginis.
Morphologically, Leo is recognizable by its general appearance. Note that a sort of “sickle” represents the head of Leo. When trying to visualize the constellation Leo, be aware that its shape will depend on the visibility conditions. So, if the conditions are right, you will first notice a trapezoid formed by the first four stars of the constellation.
Then, you will clearly see the sickle along with the stars Regulus, Algeiba and Epsilon Leo. Finally, you will be able to distinguish the snout of the animal. However, in order to perceive this part of Leo, you will need at least 4.5 magnitude. Finally, with impeccable conditions, you will be able to observe all parts of the constellation (legs and body).
- Latin name : Leo
- Genitive : Leonis
- Right ascension : 10h39min36s
- Size: 947 square degrees 12th rank
- Declination: 16° North to 65° South
- Meridian: April 15, 21h00
- Brightest star: Regulus ( α Leo) , apparent magnitude( 1.36)
- Star of apparent magnitude ≤ to 3 : 5(α,β,δ,ε,Υ)
- Stars of apparent magnitude≤ to (5.5) : 50
The bordering constellations:
- Hair of Berenice
- Little Leo
We can also note that the sun will pass in front of the constellation in August. We can notice from the beginning of our short nights the bright presence of the dominant star called Regulus.
The Location of the Leo Constellation
This constellation is very easy to locate in the sky because it is one of the few zodiac constellations to describe the shape of the animal it is supposed to represent. It is easy to spot the head of the lion which is materialized in the form of an inverted question mark. These components are : The Regulus which is among the brightest stars in the sky and occupies the 25th position, with a magnitude of 1.36, distant 77.5 light years, it is 3.6 times larger and 130 times brighter than the sun. Its brightness corresponds to a temperature of about 15000k. Thus, we also notice the doublet of spiral galaxies M65-M66 which have respective magnitudes of 9.3 and 8.4. They are about 31 million light years away from the Milky Way. Moreover, concerning the Leonids, a shower of shooting stars that reaches its maximum every year around November 17. The example is observed in 1996 up to 40 meteors per second.
The main stars of the constellation Leo
The constellation of Leo is crossed by a kyrielle of stars, globular clusters and nebulae. But not all of them have a great degree of brightness. Thus, it should be understood that the constellation of Leo has only two main stars, namely Regulus and Denebola. Regulus (Alpha Leonis), also called Cor Leonis or “the heart of Leo” is the brightest star in this constellation. Indeed, this star is reputed to be the 21st brightest in the sky.
Regulus has a magnitude of 1.36. In addition, it should be noted that Leonis is a main sequence star. In other words, it is about four times larger than the sun. In addition, its status as a white star makes Regulus even hotter than the sun, and by implication, brighter (130 times).
It should also be noted that Alpha Leonis is a double star. Its companion displays a distance of 4 200 AU compared to it. Finally, note that Regulus has the appearance of an ovoid and is located almost on an ecliptic axis. Debonis (Beta Leonis) is the second brightest star in the constellation Leo.
Its name comes from the Arabic dialect and means “tail of the lion”. Located at only 36 light years from the sun, Denebola is a white star. It is thus twice as massive as the sun. It should be added that Beta Leonis is also a variable star. Regarding, finally, its apparent magnitude, note that it is around 2.14.
On the other hand, it should be noted that astronomers have listed several minor stars in the Leo constellation. Because of their low magnitudes, they will be difficult to perceive. Thus, you can note as minor stars, among others, Algieba, Al Minar Al Asad, Zosma, Ras Elased Australis, Adhafera, Alterf, Subra and Ras Elased Borealis.
It should also be noted that Leo has the specificity of being a constellation containing 5 galaxies listed in the catalog of Messier. These are the globular clusters M 65, M66, M95, M96 and M 105. To this, we must add the presence of three nebulae including NGC 2903, NGC 3370 and NGC 3521. Finally, it should be noted that this constellation holds two clusters of meteorites. The first is known as “Delta Leonids”. They can be observed in the first quarter of each year, more precisely from February 15 to March 10. Astronomers call the second set of meteorites the “Leonids”. You can observe them at the end of the year (from November 10 to 23).
The brightest star in the constellation of the lion: Regulus
It is a star that has a binary companion located at 177′ of arc and is composed of two stars separated by 4.1 of arc of magnitude 8 and 13. It is part, with Spica, of the stars that allowed Hipparchus to deduce the accuracy of the equinoxes, by measuring their position. It is also used for Babylonian calendars, etc.. It was in India and Arabia respectively “the powerful” and “the royal”. Moreover the Hebrews called it “the star of David”. Regulus allowed in ancient Persia where it was the main star of a group of 4 indicating the cardinal points and forming the “Four Guardians of Paradise”. Regulus is the star of the constellation of the lion which is called cor Leonis or lion heart. It owes its name to Regulus to Copernicus who himself was named after the king Rex, given by Ptolemy.
Mythology of the Leo Constellation
Like many constellations, the legend of Leo is to be found in the mythology of ancient Greece. Indeed, astronomers maintain that this constellation is the incarnation of the Lion of Nemea (Greek mythology) exterminated by Heracles. The Lion of Nemea was the first test that Heracles had to overcome during his twelve famous labors.
The story goes that Heracles killed the beast without any weapon, equipped only with the strength of his arms and hands. With superhuman strength, he managed to bring down and strangle the Lion of Nemea. Then, the legend says that Heracles cut the skin of the animal to make a coat. He wore it for the rest of his life. It should be noted that other myths circulate around the constellation of Leo. Another story is told by Hipparchus and Aratus.
For the latter, it is about the lion lying and living in the monument of Mithras. It was also maintained that this lion was contemplating the sunset. Then at his death, he was placed on the head of the constellation Hydra. Moreover, the Lion is extended today to the middle of the Hydrus. Finally, an author such as Eratosthenes returns to the story of the Lion of Nemea. For him, the celestial animal was placed in the heavens in order to constitute a reminder of the first work of Heracles. Then, it constituted the constellation of the Lion. Despite the diversity of versions, remember that for many astronomers, this constellation is the representation of the lion of Nemea.
The delimitation of the constellation of Leo as we know it today existed long before, at the time of the Babylonian astrologers more than 3000 years ago. If we believe some Egyptologists, it probably existed in much earlier times in Egypt.
We still find mention of this asterism under the name of “the sickle” in even more ancient Egyptian collections.
The Sumerians: among the Sumerians, the lion is also represented, but trodden by the feet of Ishtar. Regulus was also called “the flame” or the “red fire” on the banks of the Euphrates because the star, in the time of Gilgamesh, meant the coming of the summer solstice.
In Mesopotamia: the lion meant in Mesopotamia Nergal solar deity and god of war. The winged lion (Nergal) was also called the enraged king or furious king.
Among the Greeks, he represents the king Nemea who was born from the love between Echidna and Typhon. It is the goddess Hera (wife of Zeus) who sent him. He terrorized the occupants of this village by devouring herds and men. Tough to the point of not being able to be pierced, Hercules used his skin against the arrows and spears of his enemies long after he had choked them with the strength of his arms alone.
In India: according to the great astrology writings of Parasara, the sign of the lion is mastered by the sun. The quadruped rises with its head and lives in the forests. It has a large body and is pale in color.
Bonus: Tattoo of the Leo Constellation
This presentation would not be complete without showing you a tattoo of the Leo constellation in the stars.