Leo Constellation Myths and Facts

Leo: The Lion

Pronunciation: LEE-oh
Leo, The Lion
Leo as depicted by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia (1687). Source image provided by www.RareMaps.com — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Leo Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: Leo Genitive: Leonis
Origin: Ancient Location: Celestial Equator
Best View (North): Spring Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Leo Minor, Lynx, Cancer, Hydra, Sextans, Crater, Virgo, Coma Berenices, Ursa Major
Leo, the Lion, is one of the 12 members of the zodiac.  It is one of the earliest recognized constellations, as it was known as the “lion” constellation to the Mesopotamians. It is located in between Cancer and Virgo on the ecliptic.

The Myth Behind the Constellation Leo

Leo represents the Nemean Lion, a beast with an impenetrable hide and razor sharp claws.  Some say It lived in the hills of Nemea in Greece.  It originally lived on the Moon and it descended to Earth as a shooting star.  Killing this creature was the first of the 12 Labors of Hercules.  The hero defeated the lion by wrestling it until he could lock his arms around it and then strangled it to death.  He used the lion’s own claws, the only things sharp enough, to skin the beast.  From that day forward Hercules wore the pelt as his armor.  The king of gods placed this king of the beasts back into the sky from where it had originally come.

Leo Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting Objects in the Constellation Leo
Name Messier NGC Type Visibility
M65 NGC 3623 Barred Spiral Galaxy Small Scope
M66 NGC 3627 Spiral Galaxy Small Scope
M85 NGC 4382 Barred Spiral Galaxy Small Scope
M95 NGC 3351 Barred Spiral Galaxy Small Scope
M96 NGC 3368 Spiral Galaxy Small Scope
M105 NGC 3379 Elliptical Galaxy Small Scope

Bright Stars in Leo

These are the stars in Leo with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.
Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Regulus Alpha Leonis 1.36  Blue-White 221 suns 77 ly
Algieba Gamma Leonis 2.01  Orange 400 suns 126 ly
Denebola Beta Leonis 2.11  White 12 suns 36 ly
Zosma Delta Leonis 2.56  White 23 suns 58 ly
Ras Elased Epsilon Leonis 2.97  Yellow 288 suns 251 ly