Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Starwatch: giants of Leo roar into view this week


We return to Leo, the lion, for our last Starwatch of April. This time it is to see the moon coast between two bright stars in the lion’s body.

The chart shows the view looking south south-west from London on 29 April. The moon will be in the second week of the current lunation, having passed the first quarter, and it will now have 67% of its visible surface illuminated by sunlight.

It will be passing between the stars of Regulus and Algieba. The former is the brightest star in Leo and the 21st brightest star in the entire night sky, a blue-white sub-giant that represents the lion’s chest. Algeiba, meanwhile, is a red giant star with a name that derives from the Arabic phrase meaning “the forehead”, although it now represents the shoulders of the lion. The conjunction with the moon will be easily visible around the world.

From the southern hemisphere, the constellation will appear upside down in the northern sky. Three nights earlier, on 26 April, the moon will be situated close to the red planet of Mars in the constellation of Gemini, the twins. Another easy target for sky watchers around the planet to see.

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