The constellation Leo is the fifth zodiac constellation located between the Cancer and the Virgo that are present on its west and east respectively. The name Leo is Latin in origin, signifying a lion. The constellation is easily visible in spring in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it can be seen in autumn.
The constellation is shaped like a lion that is in a bent posture with its face towards the west. The head of the lion is rather distinct with a mane represented by a sickle of stars resembling a question mark facing backwards. The star, Regulus dazzles the most out of all the stars, situated towards the south of the pointer stars forming the Big Dipper. The 1st of March marks the Leo's midnight culmination.
The recognition of Leo as a lion dates back to a thousand years. It is believed that during Midsummer, the Sun was one of its stars. Around this time, the lions escaped the heat of the Egyptian desert by moving to the banks of the River Nile. The Sun had a surging effect on the waters, which led to the Egyptians worshipping the stars of the Leo. The walls of the Ramesseum at Thebes and the planisphere of Dendera project references of the same. The constellation is referred by diverse names in different cultures. However, the interpretation remains the same that is a lion. Some of the different names include Ser or Shir in Persia, Artan in Turkey, Aryo in Syria, Arye in Jewish, Simha in India and Aru in Babylonia.
In Greek mythology, the constellation is referred to as the Nemean Lion. The Greeks believe that it was Hercules who after slaughtering the lion put it in the sky. Amongst the many galaxies of Leo, Messier 65, Messier 66, Messier 95, Messier 96, Messier 105, and NGC 3628 are of great significance.
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