Leo is one of the twelve zodiac constellations, the name "zodiac" sharing its origin with the word "zoo" -- appropriate for the ring of mythical animals found in the sky. Leo is a very easy-to-locate constellation because it has one very bright star (Regulus) and quite a few moderately bright stars in a distinctive pattern that resembles a lion. The image at left shows the general outline of the stars in Leo, with the sickle (or backwards question mark) at the head of the lion, something that is easily identifiable as Leo rises in the east in the winter. For the coming months, it will be appearing higher in the east and traversing nearly overhead throughout the evening.
Because they form a band around the sky that follows the Sun's path, each of the zodiac constellations has frequent visitors as they grace the night sky, from the Moon to the planets. Leo has been the home of Saturn for the last three years, but now Saturn is drifting slowly eastward into Virgo. On the west side of Leo is Mars, currently in retrograde in Gemini, but soon to be speeding toward Leo and a close encounter with the bright star Regulus in June.
Take some time to become acquainted with this celestial Lion, and you'll know how to quickly navigate to Saturn and Mars throughout the spring and into the summer.
A Weekend at Conway Observatory
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