Face the southwestern sky in the late evening and you’ll get to see Leo, the lion, one last time before it goes to rest below the horizon for the summer. Leo is one of the few constellations that actually look like their mythological character, making it fairly easy to spot. The lion’s basic form is a small triangle connected to a giant hook. The base of the hook is marked by a bright bluish coloured star named Regulus. up until a few hundred years ago it was called Cor leonis – or – Lion’s heart. This bright star lies about 77 light years from Earth.
As an added bonus, lying just underneath the king of the celestial jungle, at his back legs, is the creamy star-like Saturn. It lies more than 1.2 billion km away from Earth. More on the Lord of the Rings next week. Click on image to enlarge.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped lion-gods and believed the annual rise of the Nile river occurred at a time when the Sun rose in the part of the sky occupied by Leo. This link to the Nile is a possible explanation of why later, Greek and Romans often placed the familiar lion’s head at springs and fountains.
Space News: NASA Researchers Use Giant Balloons to Study Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays affect spacewalking astronauts and even high flying passengers in jet airplanes. They are released by supernova explosions across the vast interstellar distances and bombard the entire solar system. Scientists want to get a better understanding of where they come from and exactly how dangerous they are. So they launched a football-field size balloon carrying a package of scientific instruments across the North Atlantic this week to study them. Check out the full story here.
Tags: cosmic rays, Leo, mythology
Posted in Constellations, Space Exploration, Stargazing | 452 Comments »