I like to walk at night. Anyone who knows me, knows this. I enjoy just getting out at the end of a day, and having the relative peace and quiet to sort my head out, go over the day, plan the next one, and just relax.
Tonight I received an unexpected visitor. As I was walking, I noticed this reddish orange star in the South and, unable to fully discern its constellation in my somewhat light polluted urban environment, couldn’t figure out what it was. I returned home, and stood outside for a moment, trying to get my bearings and figure this out. There was Orion, we were East of Orion along the ecliptic, and then it hit me. This was Leo!!!! The lovely Leo, with the star Regulus. I was so excited. Several years ago, long before I had Cyclops, my 28″ telescope, I was given the privilege of climbing atop a tall ladder and looking through someone’s 20″ dobsonian telescope. And thereupon my eyes feasted upon SEVEN galaxies in the same field of view. Ever since, a special place in my heart has been reserved for Leo. It is just a cornucopia of astronomical delights.
If you have the chance to get to some clearer skies, look up in the Southern sky. Look for something that looks like a backwards question mark. That is the head of Leo, the lion. Look down and to the left for a reddish orange star. That is Regulus, in Leo’s hind quarters. If you have a pair of binoculars, even inexpensive ones, turn them upon Leo and see what you see. Just enjoy yourself and know that, amongst all those other stars, there are many, many galaxies, including seven that this astronomer saw on a clear night in Little Blair Valley of Anza-Borrego Desert not too many years ago.by