How to identify Leo, Leo triplet and the role of Leo in Greek mythology

The constellation Leo lies on the Ecliptic between Virgo and Cancer. It consists of nine bright stars which are Regulus, Chertan, Denebola, Zosma, Algieba, Eta leonis, Adhafera, Rasalas and Elased. The brightest of them being Regulus which is a blue white star of apparent magnitude 1.4. Leo lies exactly below Ursa Major its head pointing in the direction of the big dipper whereas the star Denebola which also forms its tail pointing  in the direction of the dipper handle. In order to locate Regulus simply join the two stars, Dubhe and Merak  of the Ursa Major constellation and then extend that line the first bright star on the line would be Regulus. Once you've identified Regulus try to imagine an inverted question mark on top of Regulus. The names of the stars from the top are Elased, Rasalas, Adhafera, Algieba, Eta Leonis and finally Regulus. If you follow the pictures then you should be able to spot the lion. If you have a decent sized telescope and a clear night sky then there are few things that you should not miss while observing this constellation. One of the biggest attraction in the Leo constellation is the Leo triplet there are three galaxies which appear to be fairly close to each other, they are M95, M96 and M105. These three galaxies are around 9 and 10 magnitude. Apart from the Leo triplet there's aslo the M65 and M66 galaxy.
(The Leo triplet as seen from a deep field telescope)
Now lets move on to the mythology surrounding this constellation. According to the Greek mythology Eurystheus had given 12 tasks to Hercules. His first task was to bring back the pelt of the Nemean lion. It was said that the lions pelt was impenetrable. First Hercules tried to kill the lion with arrows but as its fur was impenetrable, he couldn't kill it. Eventually Hercules used his club and strangled the lion to death. But his task was not yet over as he had to remove the lions pelt and couldn't use his knife. Athena the goddess of wisdom noticed the heroes struggle and told him to use the lions' own claws to skin it's pelt. In order to immortalize this event Zeus, the king of Gods and the God of the sky put the lion in the celestial in the form of the Leo constellation. 
(This is how the Leo constellation would appear, although if you live in a place where there is a lot of light or where the air is relatively polluted then the constellation might not appear this bright)

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1 comment:

  1. just went looking for something new and different and found the leo constellation. should be compulsary learning in all schools we are but a blot in the sky like those millions of blots we see in the sky at night. makes me feel humble and insignificant. a good thing in this world of no purpose no reason and no hope. perhaps there is hope and reason in the size of it all there must be hope and there must be a future for everything and every one and there must be many many gardens of eden like our earth. spoken by tony a flea in the hind leg of a donkey in the hind leg of a donkey etc etc etc finitum.