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Leo, The Lion Constellation

Leo (Pronounciation:Lee-o, Abbrev:Leo, Latin:Leonis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Leo takes up 946.964 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.3% of the night sky. The constellation gets its name as it name means The Lion . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

Leo is a member constellation of the Zodiac grouping, a group of 12 star signs that astrologers use to predict someones future based on their date of birth and which constellation appeared when the Sun set. The Zodiac year may be divided up equally between the twelve signs but when they appear in the night sky no longer conforms to the Zodiac calendar. Leo is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.

The brightest star in Leo is Regulus. There are 28 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Leo. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Leo is CW Leonis. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Leo Star List Page.

Leo Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Leo is 2128. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 80. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 10.

There are 5 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is Wolf 359 which is roughly about 7.86 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HIP 57087 which is about 33.08 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 49204 which is located about 108721.1 Light Years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

The dimmest star that can be seen in Leo with the naked eye is 35 Leonis. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 5.95. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

Legend of the Constellation

Leo represents one of the labours of Hercules. He was ordered to do it as punishment for killing his wife. The lion was terrorising the area near Nemea. He killed the beast by strangling it or choking it to death. The skin was thickest of all known animals which meant all weapons were useless against it. Hercules managed to skin the Lion using tools provided to him by Athena.

Items of Interest

The brightest star in the constellation is Regulus, also refered to as Alpha Leonis. The star is multiple star system with four stars including the large blue star that makes up this system. It is one of a group of major stars known that is oval (egg) in shape. The others being Vega and Achernar. The fact that Regulus has orbiting stars could well explain its shape but Vega is a solo star.

Algieba is a double star system and also has a planet in orbit. This may sound a little like Tatooine in Star Wars where the desert planet has two stars. The bad news with Algieba is that the planet is a giant gas planet so there's no chance of living on or finding intelligent alien life there. Algieba is not the only star in the constellation to have planets in orbit, there is also Rasalas with a planet, still sadly inhospitable.

Wolf 359, Local Star

In astronomical speak, the constellation contains one of the closest stars to our own, Wolf 359. It is a small red dwarf star that is located to the bottom left of Regulus, near the border with the Sextants constellation. It lies a mere 7.86 light years away but unfortunately we don't have the space ships to travel that distance yet. Nearer stars include Proxima Centauri and Barnard's Star.

There are no major meteor showers that radiate from within this constellation.

Leo Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign Yes
Largest StarCW Leonis
Brightest StarRegulus
Area946.964 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.3%
Size Position12th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count28
Meteor Shower Count33
Nearest StarWolf 359
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HIP 57087
Dimmest Star35 Leonis
Furthest StarHIP 49204
Bright Star Count80
Hipparcos Star Count2128
Main Star Count10
Messier Deep Space Object Count5
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsLeo Minor
Coma Berenices
Ursa Major

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Leo Constellation Map

Leo Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Leo

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Messier 105 (NGC3379)Elliptical Galaxy30,400-33,600 kly+12:3510h 47m 8
Messier 65 (NGC3623)Spiral Galaxy41,000-42,000 kly+13:0511h 18m 9
Messier 66 (NGC3627)Spiral Galaxy31,000-41,000 kly+12:5911h 20m 2
Messier 95 (NGC3351)Spiral Galaxy31,200-34,000 kly+11:4210h 44m 0
Messier 96 (NGC3368)Elliptical Galaxy28,000-34,000 kly+11:4910h 46m 8

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