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How to Find Leo the Lion Constellation of the Zodiac

The constellation Leo is one of the few that looks similar to what it's supposed

to represent. Legends have varied over time in terms of how this pattern became

a lion. To other cultures it wasn't a lion at all, but to the Sumerians,

Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, they all saw a lion within the pattern.

So, how did the lion come to be? One Ancient Egyptian legend states that

lions came to the Nile River during the summer months to cool off. The summer

is when the Sun passes through Leo. Another story states that because the

Sun is passing through Leo during the summer months it was associated with the

most powerful beasts at that time which was the lion. The most famous legend of

Leo comes from the Ancient Greek tale in which they believed this was the Nemean lion. Legend states that this mythological creature came down from the

moon in the form of a meteor and ravaged the countryside until Hercules killed it.

Let's take a look at what Leo the Lion looks like in the sky. Remember it can be

seen during the spring months and it's highest in the sky during April. When

you're looking at this picture there are some things to point out. You want to look for

the asterism called the Sickle. It looks like a backwards

question mark and this would represent the head of the lion. If you move towards

the back end, you can kind of see a triangle and this would

represent the hindquarters of the lion.

If we were to trace out the pattern of what Leo would look like in the sky with

lines- here is the shape. So, you would have that backwards question mark, also

known as the Sickle, and then you have the triangle hindquarters.

Keep in mind that depending on whichever source or book you consult, this pattern

can vary upon the source. Here is another vision of what Leo could possibly look

like to somebody else. You would have the face right here. This would represent the

mane, and then you have the body right here. I like this picture as well because

it shows the path of the Sun, which is called the ecliptic, and this helps you

remember its classification. So this constellation of Leo would be zodiacal

constellation because the Sun and planets pass through it. Take a look at

this picture. Are you able to find the backwards question mark? Can you see the

bright star in the heart of the lion? Are you able to pick out the triangle

hindquarters? If you can, you're starting to get a good idea of what Leo looks

like. Here again is the shape traced out for you. If we move onto another picture

just to practice. The way I'm always going to teach you

the constellations is to show you lots of different pictures, so you can really

start to get a feel for what each constellation looks like. This picture

is a big huge sky view of lots of constellations. I wanted to show this

one to you because if you can find Ursa Major, this asterism will help

you find Leo. So remember in a previous lesson that Ursa Major is actually this

whole constellation right here, but the Big Dipper sits within Ursa Major and if

you find the pointer stars, right here, it can help you point down right to Leo and

you can only see a portion of Leo. Here's the backwards question mark

and then the hindquarters.

So to review that again go back up find the Big Dipper, find the

pointer stars, remember that the pointer stars point up to Polaris, but then they

also point down to Leo, which is right here. We're going to stick with this

picture a little while longer, because it really just shows us so much of what's

going on in the sky. As you're looking at this picture, see if you can identify

some of the brighter stars. Do these stars make any type of shapes? Now you

may have remembered from a previous lesson about asterisms that asterisms

are used as a tool to help us point out other things in the sky. What I want

to show you in this picture is the asterism called the Spring Triangle. And

here is where it looks like so bouncing back you may be able to see this bright

star, it could connect with this bright star, and then finally connecting with

this bright star. The names of these are Arcturus, so remember we arc

to Arcturus and then we speed to Spica. Spica is in Virgo. Then moving over

here this is Denebola, which is one of the brighter stars within Leo the Lion,

which I will review with you in a little bit. Another asterism that you can see in

the spring sky is called the Great Diamond so it's basically taking the

Spring Triangle and adding another star to it called Cor Caroli, which is a part

Canes Venatici. So here is the Great Diamond. The reason I teach you these

asterisms is because if you live in a place where there is poor visibility,

because there's a lot of light pollution, these bright stars will stand out to you.

If you can point these bright stars out, you can start to figure out where

everything else lies. And just to point out everything in the sky here are all

the constellations that are in this picture. Of course we'll start with

the Big Dipper which points up to Polaris,

and we have Ursa Minor. Going back down

remember the pointer stars point down to Leo

at least a portion of Leo we can see. Moving back up we have Boötes because

we arc to Arcturus and Arcturus is a part of Boötes, which is the Herdsman. You

can see Corona Borealis sitting right here, it kind of looks like a smile.

Moving down we arc to Arcturus and speed to Spica. This is my interpretation

of Virgo. You're gonna see it interpreted in many different ways but

she is a very huge constellation and she does not have a lot of bright stars

except Spica. Okay and then coming over here this used to be the tuft of the

lion's tail but it's now known as Coma Berenices. Then right here our final

little two star constellation is Canes Venatici. Lots to see in this big

picture and if you can't see it right away that's okay. It takes time to train

your eye. That's why we go over this again and again so you can start to find

these patterns. Let's take a look at the bright stars that sit within Leo the

Lion. So here is our picture. Find that backwards question mark, move back

towards the triangle hindquarters. So our first bright star that I'd like

to teach you is called Regulus or Regulus you're gonna hear it pronounced

in different ways. I typically say Regulus and what Regulus means in Latin

is 'little king' and it is the brightest star so it has a designation of alpha.

This star is about 85 light-years away, and

it's also known as the heart of the lion and it's typically a whitish blue star.

Moving on, we also have Denebola, which is known as a lion's tail and this star

is a little bit closer to us at 39 light years away and it is a whitish blue star,

so kind of look for that distinctive color. Finally another star ,right

here, is called Algieba. It's known as the brow or the forehead and that's

what Algieba in Arabic is- the brow or the forehead even though that

this star it may not really represent the brow or the forehead in its modern

depiction. It's actually a double star. You can kind of see that

there's two little stars here and this pair of stars is a hundred and

thirty light years away. What's interesting is that these two stars

orbit each other every five hundred years and scientists suspect that these

stars are in the end stages of their life. In 2009, a planet was found to

be orbiting around this system and it may have a possible second companion

planet but that is still unconfirmed. So always interesting

to find new planets out there. Just to review again we have Regulus, we have Denebola, which

is a tail the lion and Algieba, which means the brow or forehead. Let's take a

look at the different celestial objects that you can find within Leo. Here's a

map of what Leo looks like. Again your backwards question mark, you have Regulus sitting right here this is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun and then

you have Denebola, the tail of the lion and in between the two brightest stars

are where you have these little cohorts of

galaxies. You have M65 and M66 sitting right here with another little galaxy.

And then you have M95, 96 and 105 sitting together so let's zoom in and

see what we would we would see if we had a high-powered telescope.

So here's M65 right here M66 and then NGC 3628. N G C stands for New General

Catalogue, it's the new way, or the more modern way in which we're naming

different celestial objects. You can take a look at this and and see that

these are all spiral galaxies and I have looked at this in a really, really clear

night here in Hawaii, and I've just basically seen little fuzzy patches with no

real definition. You would really have to see this with a really great

telescope. If we were to zoom in on these this is what Messier 65 would look

like. This is the composite picture so you can kind of see that's why it's

broken up a little bit and this is Messier 66 so really this photograph was

taken with some of the best telescopes in the world. It really is a

beautiful object. Going back to our diagram let's take a look right here

M105, 95, and 96. Here's Messier 95 this is the same

exact picture but this is taken with visible light where this is taken with

ultraviolet sensors on it so visible light and then ultraviolet light.

This is the same name remember some objects are being renamed with the new

more modern way, New General Catalogue, 3351. I typically stick with using

the Messier term here. Moving on here's Messier 96 another beautiful

spiral galaxy and you can actually see other little galaxies

just kind of in the background here. Then finally we can take a look at

M101. This is known as a pinwheel galaxy a very famous galaxy and you can just see

its spiral arms coming out here, so hopefully if you have a wonderful

high-powered telescope you can capture some images like this. If you're just

using binoculars you're really just gonna see fuzzy patches but again it's

still amazing that that we can see light from these objects. This concludes our

video for Leo the Lion. So let's review the main points that we learned. Leo the

Lion is best seen during the spring months and its highest in the sky during

the month of April. It is classified as a zodiacal constellation, which means that

the Sun does pass through this constellation. You can find it using the

Pointer stars of the Big Dipper. If you know where the Big Dipper is and you

know where the pointer stars are, if you follow it in one direction it'll lead

you to Polaris and if you follow the pointer stars into another direction, it

will lead you right to Leo. The bright stars to know are Regulus, right here,

which means 'little king', Denebola, which means lion's tail, and then Algieba,

right here which is actually a double star or a binary star, and it stands for

the brow or the forehead of the lion. The celestial objects you're going to look

for in this region right here you're going to be looking for M65 and M66 and

then M95, 96 and M101 will be in this region. I hope this video was helpful for

you to learn about Leo and if you have any questions please write them in the

comment section below and I'll be sure to answer you back. Thank you for

watching!