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Monday, November 24, 2014

Sky Tonight—April 13, Moon close to Regulus – a Royal Star

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

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phases r 081 Sky Tonight—April 13, Moon close to Regulus – a Royal Star Apr13 Sky Tonight—April 13, Moon close to Regulus – a Royal Star Tonight, the waxing gibbous moon shines close to Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion. Regulus is considered to be the Heart of the Lion in Leo.

Regulus is also one of the four “Royal Stars” of ancient Persia. These Royal Stars mark the four quadrants of the heavens. They are Regulus, Antares, Fomalhaut, and Aldebaran.

Regulus: Heart of the Lion

Four to five thousand years ago, the Royal Stars defined the approximate positions of equinoxes and solstices in the sky. Regulus reigned as the summer solstice star, Antares as the autumn equinox star, Fomalhaut as the winter solstice star, and Aldebaran as the spring equinox star. Regulus is often portrayed as the most important Royal Star, possibly because it symbolized the height and glory of the summer solstice sun.

Regulus coincided with the summer solstice point some 4,300 years ago. In our time, the sun has its annual conjunction with Regulus on or near August 22, or about two months after the summer solstice, or one month before the autumn equinox. Regulus will mark the autumn equinox point some 2,100 years into the future.

Looking for a sky almanac? EarthSky recommends . . .

So look for bright star by the moon tonight – Regulus, the Royal Star. It still reigns over its quadrant of sky and still serves as a marker of the seasons.

Fomalhaut: First visible extrasolar planet

by Bruce McClure

 

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