The Constellation of Leo: All About the Crouching Lion

Leo is the 5th constellation in the list of 13 zodiac constellations spanning the sky. Other than some of the brightest stars and galaxies, it also has some of the most interesting facts to its credit.
One of the 13 constellations of the zodiac, Leo can be seen in the sky in the form of a crouching lion facing west. Its distinct head and mane, formed by a sickle of stars, makes it very easy to recognize this constellation, especially during spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern. While many people are heard talking about the zodiac sign associated with this constellation, not many of them have any idea about the constellation itself.

Location of Leo

With a spread of 946.964 square degrees, Leo is the 12th largest constellation of the zodiac. It has Cancer to its west and Virgo to its east. Also lying around are little-known constellations, such as Leo Minor, Ursa Major, Hydra, and Crater. In order to locate Leo, one has to locate the sickle formed by six stars of the constellation; namely Regulus, Gama Leonis, Ras Elased Australis, Ras Elased Borealis, Adhafera, and Eta Leonis.

Stars and Galaxies in the Constellation

Identifying a particular constellation in the sky becomes even easier if you are well-versed with the various stars that help to form it. The major stars in Leo are Regulus, Denebola, Subra, Zosma, and Algieba. Regulus, which is located at a distance of 83 light years from the planet Earth, is the brightest star of this constellation. In fact, it is believed to be 75 times brighter than the Sun. On the other hand, located at a distance of 7.7 light years, Wolf359 is the nearest star to the Earth. Messier 65, Messier 95, and Messier 96 are some of the brightest galaxies in Leo. The constellation also features a cloud of hydrogen and helium, believed to be left by the Big Bang.

Leo in Mythology

The term Leo is derived from the Latin word for lion. According to Greek mythology, Leo represents the Nemean lion that was killed by Hercules. The Constellation also finds a place for itself in the works of some of the most prominent Roman poets, including Ovid and Manilus. The Egyptians believed that the Sun rose near the star Denebola in the Leo constellation. Other than this, it is also cited in various Persian and Indian literary works as Ser and Sher respectively. In astrology, the sun sign Leo is associated with this constellation. The Sun enters the constellation on July 23 and leaves it on August 22, and people born in this period are known as Leos.

Interesting Facts About Leo

One of the most interesting aspects of constellation Leo is the Leonids meteor shower, associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. These meteors are called Leonids, as their radiant is located in Leo, which makes it appear as if they are being radiated from the constellation itself. Except for Regulus, all the other stars in this constellation are named in Arabic. Although Wolf359 is closest to the Earth, it is one of the least-luminous stars known to us.

Leo has some of the brightest stars to its credit, which makes it relatively easy to locate it on a clear spring evening. If the experts are to be believed, the best time to locate the constellation is at 2100 hours in the month of April.