Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Tonight, the waxing gibbous moon shines fairly close to the silvery-blue star Regulus in the constellation Leo. To the east of the moon shines the golden planet Saturn. If you cannot distinguish color with the unaided eye, try binoculars. By tomorrow night, a somewhat fuller waxing gibbous moon will have moved away from Regulus and closer to Saturn.
Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion, and it represents the Lion’s fiery heart. Because Leo is a constellation of the Zodiac, the sun, moon and planets routinely pass in front of Leo’s stars. In fact, the moon has cycles during which it occults – passes directly in front of – Regulus every month for many months in succession. However, there are no lunar occultations of Regulus this year. Throughout 2010, the moon passes to the south of Regulus every month.
Regulus stands almost exactly on the ecliptic – the sun’s apparent path in front of the backdrop stars. Annually, on or near August 23, the sun has a conjunction with Regulus. If you could see the stars in the daytime, you would see the sun rising and setting with Regulus every year on August 23 .
If you have a birthday on or near August 23, I guess that makes you a lionhearted person!
Written by Bruce McClure