The Leo constellation is one of the 12 zodiac star constellations.
This article will explore the facts, myths, locations, and stars related to Leo.
It will be informative for amateur astronomers, students, or anyone wanting more information on this topic.
Leo Constellation Facts, Myth, Location and Stars
Leo Constellation Location
The Leo constellation is located in the Northern hemisphere.
Though it can be seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
It lies between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east.
Other border constellations are Lynx, Hydra, and Leo Minor.
It can be found at a latitude of 90 degrees and -60 degrees.
Leo takes up 947 square degrees in the sky.
Appearing to be just above the planet Jupiter.
Though it can be seen year round, it is best viewed during the first half of March in the night sky at midnight.
It has several bright stars and a unique shape ( crouching lion), which makes it easy to spot with the naked eye.
In fact, it ranks as the 12th largest of all the 88 constellations.
Leo Constellation Stars
Leo has many magnitude 2 stars ( level 1 being the brightest and 5, the dimmest).
These stars allow the crouching lion cluster to be seen easily without a microscope.
The main stars include:
• Alpha Leonis (also known as Regulus)
It is the brightest star in the Leo constellation. It has a magnitude of 1.35. It is 77.63 light years from Earth. In the constellation formation, Alpha is located at the head of the lion.
• Beta Leonis (also known as Denebola)
The second brightest star in the constellation with a magnitude of 2.1. It is 35.88 light years from Earth. ( 1 light year = 6 trillion miles). It is located at the tip of the lion’s tail.
• Delta Leonis (also known as Zosma)
It has a magnitude of 2.5 and is 58 light years from Earth. This star is a point on the lion’s tail.
• Gamma Leonis (also known as Algieba)
It has a magnitude of -0.18 and is 130 light years from Earth. This star is on the lion’s mane.
• Epsilon Leonis (also known as Algenubi)
It has a magnitude of 2.98 and is 246 light years from Earth. This is the 5th brightest star in the constellation. This star sits at the southern point of the lion’s head.
• Zeta Leonis (also known as Adhafera)
It has a magnitude of 3.3 and is 274 light years from Earth. This star helps to make up the lion’s braid.
• Mu Leonis (also known as Rasalas)
It has a magnitude of 3.88 and is 124 light years from Earth. This star lies on the northern part of the lion’s head.
• Iota Leonis (also known as Al Jabhah)
It has a magnitude of 4 and is 79 light years from Earth. It is one of the dimmest stars in the constellation.
• Eta Leonis (no other name)
It has a magnitude of 3.4 and is 1270 light years from Earth. It is the only star inside the lion’s head.
Leo Constellation History
Dating back to 4000 BC, Leo is one of the first constellations known to civilization.
Archeologists have found evidence of Leo in ancient Mesopotamia in cave drawings.
The ancient Hindis called the constellation Simha (lion).
Astronomers in Babylonia called Leo UR.GU.LA ( the great lion).
It is one of the original 48 constellations indexed by the astronomer Ptolemy in 150 BC.
Leo is associated with the summer solstice, which symbolized the flooding of the Nile in Egypt.
So, ancient Egyptians locked the flood routes with canals in the shape of a lion’s head.
This is why, even today, we see so many fountains and statues where water is flowing from the mouth of a lion!
Leo Constellation Myths
According to Greek mythology, Leo was the lion killed by Hercules during the first of his 12 labors ( punishments for killing his family while under Hera’s wicked spell).
The myth states that Leo would take women into his cave and hold them captive.
No warrior or weapons could subdue Leo. Hercules decided he had to defeat the lion with his bare hands.
As the lion pounced, Hercules grabbed it and broke its back, freeing the maidens.
The Greek God Zeus celebrated Hercules’ labor by putting the lion in the sky.
Leo Constellation Deep-Sky Objects
Leo has many deep-sky objects. Including galaxies.
Two that are especially bright and can easily be seen are:
• The Leo Triplet
These are a small group of galaxies about 35 million light years from Earth.
• The Leo Ring
This is an intergalactic cloud made up of helium and hydrogen.
Leo Constellation Meteor Showers
The Leo constellation has several meteor showers each year.
The Leonids, as they are called, occur each November.
They are strongest from the 14th to 15th of that month.
The beginning of January also sees smaller showers from the 1st through the 7th.
On a clear night, we can see meteor showers from the Northern hemisphere.
The Leo Constellation’s Connection to Astrology
Leo, like all other zodiac constellations, has a strong link to astrology.
Often in the past, ( but even today), Leo was associated with the rise and fall of kings, elections, deaths of leaders, uprisings, and the fluctuation of the stock exchange.
Ptolemy believed that some of the stars in the Leo constellation had human characteristics.
Some of these were cruelty, lying, thieving, and boldness.
Basically, he thought that depending where and when these stars would orbit or align with certain objects, bad things could happen. Many people still believe this.
They’ll not plan certain activities until the stars are perfectly aligned. In modern times, Leo is just associated by most as being the birth sign for people born between July 23rd and August 22nd, when the sun is in Leo.
This is why people born during this time are called Leo’s.
Leo Constellation Fun Fact
Author J.K. Rowling, who brought Harry Potter to life, was born under Leo.
One of her characters, Regulus Black, is named after the most prominent star in the Leo constellation.
The Leo Constellation has a fascinating history.
So if you’re out star gazing one night, try to find it. Given its brightness and distinct shape, it should be pretty easy to find.