January 15, 2021: Leo the Lion is tilted westward before sunrise during mid-January mornings.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:45 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
With Venus becoming difficult to see, as was outlined in yesterday’s note, other celestial gems are in the sky before sunrise.
Read about Venus during January.
An hour before sunrise, Leo the Lion is tilted toward the western horizon from the west-southwest sky. The celestial creature is made of a backwards question mark – the Sickle of Leo – and a triangle.
The sickle – a farm implement for cutting grain – seems to make the head and chest of the westward-facing lion.
The bright star Regulus – “the prince,” as described by George Davis – is the bright star at the bottom of the sickle. At this hour Regulus is about one third of the way up in the west-southwest.
The Lion’s haunches are formed by a smaller triangle to the upper left of Regulus. The tail – Denebola – is the highest star in this view.
With early sunsets, the constellation comes into view over 5 hours after sunset in the eastern sk. Leo follows the great winter contingent that includes Orion and Sirius. It is high in the south after midnight and at its westward tilt before sunrise.
During latter winter evenings, Leo is in the southeast after sunset. By late April Regulus is high in the south when night falls.
Use a binocular to amplify the distinctly blue color of Regulus. At about 80 light years away, it is over 100 times brighter than our sun. The star is not much larger than our sun. To shine with its blue intensity and with a visibility over 80 light years as one of the bright stars in the sky, Regulus consumes its nuclear fuel at a much greater rate than our sun.
Take a look for the celestial lion in the western sky before sunrise.
If you want to investigate more about star names, read this reprint from a 1944 article by George Davis, Jr.
For a nicely presented view of the constellations, read The Friendly Starsby Martha Evans Martin and Donald Howard Menzel.
Read more about the planets during January.
July 27, 2021: Evening Star Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are in the evening sky. Mars is nearing its conjunction with Regulus in two evenings.
July 26, 2021: Four bright planets are in the evening sky. Mars closes in on Regulus for their conjunction in three evenings. Brilliant Evening Star Venus appears to the upper left of the impending Mars – Regulus conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are low in the southeastern sky after sunset.
July 25, 2021: Four evenings before its conjunction with Regulus, find Mars in the western sky to the lower right of Venus. As the calendar day ends, look for the moon below bright Jupiter.
July 24, 2021: After sunset, Venus and Mars are in the western sky. A little later during evening hours, the moon is near Jupiter and Saturn in the southeast.
July 23, 2021: Four bright planets are visible during evening hours. Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sunset. A little later, the moon is near Saturn and Jupiter in the southeastern sky.