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Stars in your eyes

Constellation Leo

image of stars

21 December 2009 at 2300 hours looking East.
The constellation Leo, with Mars just to the right. The brightest star in Leo is called Regulus. It is the nearest constellation to the Milky Way.

In Greek mythology Leo, the lion, came down from the Moon in the form of a meteor. He then raged across the countryside of Corinth destroying animals and people; this quite upset the locals. Hercules was given the task to kill the lion; it was the first of his twelve �impossible� challenges. He found the lion�s den in a cave and sealed off one of the two entrances so that it could not escape. Hercules� first attempt to kill the lion with an arrow failed because its skin was so strong and tough that it could not be penetrated with any type of iron, bronze, or stone. So he grabbed it and stuck his fist down its throat to kill it. He then skinned the lion and used its tough hide as a shield because arrows and other weapons could not penetrate it; this came in very handy during his other adventures. Hera (Zeus� wife) was so angry with Hercules that she raised the soul of Leo and placed it high in the sky as a constellation of stars � a permanent tribute.

Somewhere around 240 BC, stars in Leo�s tail were taken from him by priests under Ptolemy III, when they invented the new constellation Coma Berenices (also known as Bernice�s Hair).

Thanks to our resident astronomer JG