The Lion

Abbreviation: Leo
Genitive: Leonis

The constellation of Leo

Leo is a member of the zodiac. This is one of the most ancient of constellations, with the Mesopotamians having a similar constellation 4000 years ago. The Greeks identified it as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Heracles as one of his Twelve Labours.

The asterism of the 'Sickle', looking like a backwards question mark, is comprised of the stars ε Leo, μ Leo, ζ Leo, γ Leo, and η Leo and α Leo.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
Leonids This November meteor shower is the fastest of all such events because the meteors are colliding with the Earth practically head-on. They can be very bright and most leave trains. Associated with comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle which reached perihelion in January 1998, this shower was particularly exciting for the next few years. Indeed, this meteor shower is notorious for its intense, periodic storms which occur at 33-year intervals (the period of its associated comet). In 1966, observers in the western United States were treated to the sight of 40 meteors per second! The radiant is in the asterism of the 'Sickle'.
α Leo Regulus This is the faintest of the first magnitude stars.
β Leo Denbola Appropriately, this star, located at the tail of the lion, means 'the lion's tail'. It is near CT1133, one of the first pulsars discovered in 1968.
γ Leo Algieba A telescope will reveal this star's binary nature.
δ Leo Zosma
ζ Leo Adhafera Adhafera becomes three unrelated stars when viewed through binoculars.
θ Leo Chertan
λ Leo Alterf The name of the star is not officially recognised by the IAU.
μ Leo Rasalas
ο Leo Subra
Wolf 359 This star is just under 8 light years away from the Sun, making it one of the the closest stars to the solar system. Despite its proximity, it cannot be seen with the naked eye.
M65 This spiral galaxy appears elliptical through a small telescope.
M66 Dark dust lanes and bright star clusters along its spiral arms mark out this spiral galaxy.
M95 This is a barred spiral galaxy.
M96 Leo is full of spiral galaxies!
M105 A massive black hole lurks at the heart of this elliptical galaxy.
C40 This spiral galaxy is located between the stars Chertan and Zosma.