Moon Near Lion’s Heart

Written by The Night Sky Guy on April 23, 2010 – 5:58 pm -

Face the southern horizon tonight and look for the Moon pairing up with the lead star in the constellation Leo, the lion. Also if you look carefully you may notice that the Moon is also sandwiched between two  bright star-like objects – planets Mars and Saturn – both a bit of  a distance away from Luna but still a pretty show.

Friday night: Moon sits under 78 light year distant Regulus

Friday night: Moon sits under 78 light year distant Regulus


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Constellations, Stargazing, stars | 1,056 Comments »

Luna and the Lion’s Heart Tonight

Written by The Night Sky Guy on June 26, 2009 – 10:53 am -

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

If you have clear skies tonight check out a beautiful crescent Moon pairing up with the  bright star, Regulus in the southwest horizon at around 10 pm. Up until a few hundred years back, this blue-white star was called officially by its Latin name – Cor Leonis – The Lion’s Heart’. It is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and if you lookat the outline of the mythical figure, Regulus definitely does mark the spot where the lion’s heart would be.

Regulus is about 77 light years away and is larger and much younger than our own Sun - 3.5 times bigger and only a few hundred million years old.  What you may not know is that it is in fact a multiple star system consisting of 4 different stars that revolve around each other in pairs. Also recent observations of this bright star has revealed that its spins so fast around its axis, that its shape is distorted resembling an egg. While our Sun rotates on its axis in about 24 hours, Regulus takes only 16 hours !


Tags: , ,
Posted in Constellations, Solar System, Stargazing, The Moon, stars | 238 Comments »

Moon Passes Stellar Trio

Written by The Night Sky Guy on May 29, 2009 – 3:20 pm -

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

]Starting this evening (Friday) the near quarter Moon will glide past the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is about 76 light years away from Earth. Then by Sunday evening the Moon will have skipped over to meet up with the Lord of the Rings. The gas giant planet Saturn is about 1.2 billion km distant and will make a spectacular pair with our closest neighbour in the sky. if you have a telescope and have never seen Saturn then this is a great opportunity since you can use the Moon as a guidepost in finding it. You don’t need a big scope either, even the smallest one will do.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

To see this sky show face towards the southwest at around 10 pm local time. By Monday the Moon will continue its trek across the southern sky and enter the Virgo constellation and tuck underneath its lead star, Spica.  Throughout this week the Moon’s shape will change from crescent to quarter into waxing gibbous.
Skycharts for next week will follow so stay tuned.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Constellations, Planets, Stargazing, The Moon, Uncategorized, stars | 2 Comments »

Lion Roars in the West

Written by The Night Sky Guy on May 22, 2009 – 2:56 pm -

Courtesy of Starry Night Software

Courtesy of Starry Night Software

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: , ,
Posted in Constellations, Space Exploration, Stargazing | 452 Comments »