05 July 2021

Fun Facts

1. Leo means ‘lion’ in Latin
2. Evidence suggests recognition of the constellation since 6,000 years ago
3. The stars that make up the ‘Big Dipper’s bowl point towards this constellation
4. There is a constellation with similar imagery called Leo Minor that lies near it
5. Every 33 years, a large meteor shower—Leonids—occurs within Leo’s borders

An overview

The constellation of Leo makes up an imagery of a crouching lion. The constellation consists of 15 main stars, with the brightest, Regulus, having a surface temperature that’s twice that of our sun.

It is one of the 12 Greek Zodiac constellations, and is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, from January to June in the former and summer to autumn’s end in the latter.

The myth

The constellation of Leo, like that of Cancer, is also based on the adventures of Hercules, the son of Zeus. His stepmother, Hera, frequently tormented him and had made continuous attempts at killing Hercules, but to little avail.

Though he was not successfully murdered by Hera, the torment dished out by his stepmother soon drove Hercules insane. In a crazed frenzy, Hercules killed six of his own sons.

When he regained his senses, Hercules was overcome with remorse, and sought to serve penance by putting himself under King Eurystheus’ control. The King set Hercules a series of labors, with the first being to kill a lion that had terrorized the city of Nemea, whose golden fur protected it from swords and arrows..

Hercules killed the lion by breaking its back, and his proud father, Zeus, commemorated his triumph by placing the lion in the night sky.

The constellation

The Constellation of Leo is situated in the northern sky’s second quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -65 to +90 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Crater, Lynx, and Ursa Major.

Of the 15 main stars it consists, there exists six celestial bodies of note: Denebola, Zosma and Chort, which form the rump of the depicted lion; Regulus, the brightest star of the constellation and one of the brightest stars in the Earth’s night sky; Algieba, a two-star system made up of two giant binary stars, and Adhafera, a white-yellow giant star six times larger than our sun.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Leo? Find out more about Virgo or Libra. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.