Short Constellation Guide

12 Signs of the Zodiac

Sternbilder Aries Pisces Aquarius Capricorn Sagitarius Scorpio Libra Virgo Leo Cancer Gemini Taurus

The Lion (Leo)

The Lion lies between the inconspicuous Crab (in the west) and the Virgin (in the east). The constellation of the lion looks like a toy horse or a clothes hanger; head, chest and front legs look like to an inverted question mark. The brightest star in the Lion has a magnitude of 1 and is named Regulus (Alpha Leonis), because he was seen as keeping guard over the heavens, as presiding over all celestial things. Denebola, the beta star in Leo, is the easternmost in a conspicuous triangle of stars set to the east of Regulus. It marks the lion’s tail; the name comes from the Arabic phrase meaning exactly that. Denebola’s apparent brightness is of a magnitude of 2.

From mythology – an interesting story that has been told for many centuries

According to Greek mythology, the goddess Hera sent a wild beast, the Nemean lion, to test her enemy, Hercules. This was the first of his twelve Labours. The skin of the lion was so resistant that the archers’ arrows could not penetrate it. Hercules caught the lion in his cave and fought with him for 25 days. He strangled the lion with his bare hands, but lost a finger in the fight. After Hercules had killed the lion, he skinned it and clothed himself with the pelt. This is how Hercules remained impervious to all sorts of weapons.

Finding the constellation in the sky

In the northern hemisphere, the Lion is best viewed around 9 pm in April. He is easily identified by finding Regulus, the bright blue primary star that marks the chest of the lion. A line von star 4 in the Big Dipper to star 5 leads to star 3 in Lion. You can also easily find Leo when Orion, the great hunter, is visible; Leo lies to the east of Orion.

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