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Calendar of astronomy, May sky

Constellation Leo

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Updated January 21, 2013

In the spring, a triangle formed by the characteristic star Arcturus (α Bootis) of the constellation Bootes, Spica (α Virginis) of the Virgin and Regulus (α Regulus) Leo, help the observer to spot in the night sky. This celestial triangle is called by astronomers the triangle orientation spring. The constellation Leo is identified with a group of stars forming a pattern characteristic sickle. One can easily observe this constellation in our Northern Hemisphere spring.
The brightest star in Leo is Regulus (Leo) located 68 light-years from Earth. Little Lion is a northern constellation which covers an area devoid of stars, we find that stars of the fourth magnitude (4) so faint. Little Lion is placed over the head of the Lion. To find it, look between the constellation of the Great Bear and the constellation of Leo.
Several galaxies invisible to the eye, are in the belly of the Lion with M65, M66, M95 and beautiful spiral galaxy M96.


nota: A constellation is a group of stars that sufficiently close to the celestial vault are gave the appearance of an imaginary figure drawn in the sky.

nota: By convention, the names of the stars in a constellation are prefixed by a Greek letter followed by the first 3 letters of the constellation, for example:
α  Ori, β Ori,... (Greek letters: α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ ς σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω).

nota: a light year is exactly 9 460 895 288 762 850 meters.

nota: M is the mark of the Messier catalog, a catalog of astronomical objects look like diffuse nebulae or galaxies.

Image: Constellation Leo. Image reworked from the Open Source software Stellarium.

 Constellation Leo

Galaxy M95 or NGC 3351


Some spiral galaxies have a ring around the center. The large and beautiful galaxy M95 is one of the closest examples of a barred spiral galaxy. It is visible in the picture taken against the CFHT telescope in Hawaii, the United States, with its magnificent spiral arms where we see open clusters and bright blue stars. Bands of dark dust are illuminated by the glow of billions of stars and a bar of stars across the center of the galaxy. But what intrigues many astronomers is compact bright ring of star formation surrounding the heart of the galaxy, visible outside the small central bar. Recent images of the X-ray telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, showed that X-rays are emitted by supernovae around the ring. Detailed observations of the rings indicate that its current brightness is enhanced by recent bursts of star formation. M95, also known as NGC 3351, spans about 50,000 light years away and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Lion (Leo).


M95 is one of the largest galaxies in the Leo group, it compose the trio M96 and M105.

nota: M is the mark of the Messier catalog, a catalog of astronomical objects look like diffuse nebulae or galaxies.

nota: NGC (New General Catalogue) is one of the most popular catalogs in the field of astronomy with the Messier catalog.

Image: Galaxie M95 or NGC 3351 taken by the CFHT telescope in Hawaii.
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT) & Giovanni Anselmi (Coelum Astronomia), Hawaiian Starlight

 Galaxy M95 or NGC 3351
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