Leo (The lion)

Constellation LeoLeo, the lion, is a distinctive zodiacal constellation that was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located on the ecliptic between Cancer and Virgo, and can be found below the bowl of the Big Dipper with both constellations arriving at their highest nightfall ascension in April.  Leo closely resembles a crouching lion with its rather distinct backward question mark, or sickle asterism. This constellation features the bright star Regulus (Alpha Leonis) at the back of the lion’s head.

The most famous deep sky object in Leo is The Leo Triplet is a close grouping of the galaxies M65, M66 (displayed) and NGC3628 that can be seen together in a single telescopic field of view. For those observing with telescopes, there are several other galaxies cataloged by Charles Messier are located in Leo, to include M65, M66, M95, M96 and M105. Leo is also home to the famous Leonids meteor shower that occurs during November, peaking at about 10 meteors per hour on November 14th and 15th.

IAU Leo chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg, June 5, 2011.
IAU Leo chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.