Leo Constellation
leo constellation
Highlighted in yellow is the asterism which forms the head of Leo, known as 'The Sickle'.
Leo Constellation Facts
  • Leo contains several bright stars making it one the most easily recognizable constellations in the night sky.
  • The constellation is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • In the Northern hemisphere the constellation can be seen from January to June.
  • The stars that make up the bowl of the 'Big Dipper' asterism point towards the constellation in the Northern hemisphere.
  • In the Southern hemisphere Leo can be viewed in the summer and autumn months.
  • In the Southern hemisphere Leo will appear upside down.
  • The brightest star in the constellation is Regulus, which has surface temperatures more than twice that of the sun.
  • The Latin word for lion is leo.
  • Leo is one of the oldest recorded constellations, it was perceived as a lion by ancient civilizations as far back as 6,000 years ago.
  • Leo is also one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Leo Mythology

leo mythology
The constellation of Leo was recognized as a lion by several ancient civilizations.
Like several constellations Leo is based on the adventures of Hercules, a Greek mythological hero and son of Zeus. After being driven insane by his step mother the divine hero killed his six sons in a blind rage. When he recovered from his temporary madness Hercules seeked to atone for his actions by serving a penance for his crimes. Eventually Hercules ended up in the control of King Eurystheus who set him a series of labors.
The first of these labors was to kill a lion that had been terrorizing the city of Nemea. Unknown to Hercules the lion had a coat of golden fur which arrows and swords were unable to penetrate. On his first visit to the lion’s lair Hercules discovered that his arrows simply bounced of the beast. On his second visit the hero blocked off one of the two entrances to the lair and entered armed with a large club, he beat the lion with his club before strangling it to death.

Main Stars in the Leo Constellation
leo constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Denebola
Also known as Beta Leonis, Denebola is a bright white main sequence star located around 36 light years from Earth, the star is only 75% larger in mass and radius than our sun.
Zosma
Also known as Delta Leonis, like Denebola Zosma is a white main sequence star located around 58 light years from Earth, the star has a mass and radius around twice that of the sun.
Chort
Also known as Theta Leonis, along with Denebola and Zosma Chort forms the rump of Leo in the form of a bright triangle, like the two others Chort is a white main sequence star, at a distance of 165 light years from Earth it is the furthest of the trio and as a result less bright.
Regulus
Also known as Alpha Leonis, Regulus is not only the brightest star in the constellation but one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Regulus is a four star system located around 80 light years from Earth, the system consists of the bright Regulus A and three dimmer stars. Regulus A is a large blue main sequence star with around 4 times the mass and radius of the sun.
Algieba
Also known as Gamma Leonis, Algieba is a two star system around 130 light years from Earth, the system consists of two giant binary stars orbiting each other at a distance of around 16 billion miles (26 billion km).
Adhafera
Also known as Zeta Leonis, Adhafera is a white-yellow giant star around 270 light years from Earth, it's around six times larger in diameter than the sun with around three times its mass.

Finding Leo - Northern Hemisphere
finding leo northern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Leo over most of the United States in mid-spring at 10 pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Northern hemisphere such as Canada, the UK and Europe.
In the Northern hemisphere Leo is primarily visible in the southern night sky.
In January Leo will appear low on the eastern horizon around 11 pm, moving westwards throughout the night until day breaks around 7pm.
From February to April the constellation will appear in the eastern sky around 8 pm, gradually moving higher before dipping towards the western horizon before day breaks.
In May and June Leo will appear high in the western night sky around 10 pm, before dipping towards the western horizon over the next few hours.

Finding Leo - Southern Hemisphere
finding leo southern hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Leo over most of Australia in early autumn at 8 pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Southern hemisphere such as New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In the Southern hemisphere Leo is visible in the northern night sky.
In February and March Leo will appear low in the north-eastern sky from around 9 pm, moving westwards throughout the night before dipping below the north-western horizon around day break.
Throughout autumn months of April to June the constellation will appear in the north-eastern or northern sky around 6pm, gradually moving towards the north-western horizon over the next few hours.


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