2021, June 15: Moon, Sickle of Leo

June 15, 2021:  The moon is with the Sickle of Leo this evening.  Step outside about an hour after sunset to find the crescent moon that is about 30% illuminated over one-third of the way up in the west.

2021, June 15: The crescent moon is 1.1° to the left of the star Eta Leonis (η Leo).
Chart Caption – 2021, June 15: The crescent moon is 1.1° to the left of the star Eta Leonis (η Leo).

This evening the crescent moon is in the western sky during the early evening hours.

During the next few evenings, the moon moves in front of Leo’s stars.

This evening the moon is near the star Eta Leonis (η Leo on the chart).  This star is with a pattern that resembles a backwards question mark, known as the “Sickle of Leo.”

In his book, Stars in Our Heavens, Peter Lum wrote that in Greek Mythology, Leo fell from the sky and terrified the residents of Corinth.  Hercules killed the animal.  Some drawings of Hercules show the Lion’s pelt on is head as a helmet.

To others, the Lion was much larger, including nearly a half dozen other modern constellations.

The brightest star is Regulus, “the prince,” a name of Latin origin.  Robert Burnham, in his Celestial Handbook, stated that Copernicus provided the modern name. He further traces the name through various cultures: Al-Maliki (Arabia) – “the Kingly One;” Sharru (Babylonia) – “The King;” Magha (India) – “the Great One.”

Like Sirius, Leo is associated with hot summer weather.  Lions were known to visit the Nile River during the hot days of summer.

The Sickle of Leo is a group of stars that resembles a familiar shape, an asterism.  Other such famous patterns are the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Summer Triangle, Winter Triangle, and Teapot of Sagittarius, among others.

The Sickle is a farmer’s implement for cutting.  It has a curved blade and a handle.

In his compilation of star names and their meanings, George Davis, lists the names of the brighter stars in the Sickle. After Regulus and its Latin origin, most of the stars have Arabic roots for the large lion constellation they saw in the sky.

The stars:

Algieba – the forehead (of the Arabian Lion)

Adhafera – the plaited or twisted hair.

Rasalas – (the star in) the northern part of the head.

Ras Alased Australis – the southern part of the head.

Step outside and take a look at the Lion’s head and the moon this evening.

2021, June 15: The crescent moon is 1.1° to the left of the star Eta Leonis (η Leo).

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