• Leo - Leo the Lion

    IAU Constellation


    12 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    East of the Gemini twins lies Leo the Lion.

    Find the bowl of the Big Dipper. A line running through the two stars of the bowl of the Big Dipper on the side nearest the handle points almost directly to two other notable stars. Follow them below the bowl of the Dipper to Regulus.

    Leo’s mane looks like a backward question mark, or sickle. Regulus, the "dot" at the bottom of the mark, lies nearly on the ecliptic.

    His flank is a triangle of stars farther east.

  • Fusion Image 7

    Source: Johann Bayer, Uranometria ("Measuring the Heavens"; Ulm, 1661); History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries
    Object: The Leo Triplet of spiral galaxies in Leo the Lion; Hunter Wilson
    Composite: The Sky Tonight, skytonight.org (CC-by)

    Object description

    The Leo Triplet is a beautiful group of spiral galaxies in Leo. It consists of two Messier objects, M65 and M66, as well as NGC 3628 (also known as the Hamburger galaxy).

    Fusion Image 7

    Constellations IAU Abbr


    Source Description

    First published in Augsburg in 1603, Bayer’s atlas consists of 51 double-page copperplate engravings. Bayer labeled the stars with Greek letters, according to their apparent magnitude

  • Bode (1801), plate 2: Libra Planisphere


    Uranographia Tab II. Stellatum Hemisphaeri um Librae

    Bode included two planisphere plates. They are not southern and northern hemispheres; each one has Polaris at the top and the south pole at the bottom. Each one is centered upon an equinox point (where the ecliptic or path of the Sun and the celestial equator intersect). The March equinox point was in Aries in antiquity; by Bode’s time, due to the precession of the equinoxes, it had shifted to Pisces. The September equinox point was in Libra in antiquity; by Bode’s time it had shifted to Virgo.  Bode titled the plates as the Aries and Libra planispheres.

    The Libra planisphere, centered on the September equinox in Virgo, includes these constellations, among others, which appear high overhead in the night skies of spring:

    Equatorial:  Ophiuchus, Serpens, Libra, Virgo, Crater, Corvis, Hydra, Sextans, Leo, Cancer, Monoceros.

    Northern:  Hercules, Quadrans Muralis, Bootes, Canes Venatici, Ursa Major, Telescopium Herschelii, Gemini, Lynx, Ursa Minor.

    Southern:  Scorpius, Tubus Astronomicus, Lupus, Centaurus, Apis, Chameleon, Crux, Argo Navis, Robur Caroli II, Circinus (sector compass), Canis Major, Pixis Nautica (magnetic compass), Machina Pneumatica (air pump), Officina Typographica (printing press).

    In September, the Libra-Virgo equinox (the center of the Libra plate) is traveling with the Sun, rising in the east in the morning and setting in the west in the evening.  Imagine the center of the planisphere has the Sun pinned to it for that day, and that’s how it would move across the sky. Therefore the constellations near the center of this planisphere are invisible in the daytime sky at that time unless there is a solar eclipse.  They would be visible directly opposite the Sun at the March equinox.